The foreign affairs minister says Australia is not leaving any stone unturned in efforts to have journalist Peter Greste released from an Egyptian jail.
Australia is leaving no stone unturned in trying to have journalist Peter Greste released from an Egyptian jail as quickly as possible, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says.
Ms Bishop on Thursday night defended the coalition’s handling of the controversial case.
The Al Jazeera journalist is facing up to seven years in jail, accused of backing the black-listed Muslim Brotherhood and portraying Egypt in a state of “civil war”.
Appearing before a Cairo court on Thursday, Australian time, Greste called for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to speak out against his continuing detention.
However, Ms Bishop said the government was not leaving any stone unturned.
“It would be counter productive however for me to go into details and give a running commentary on this,” she told reporters in Sydney.
“He is in the middle of a trial.
“He is going back to court and our focus is to ensure he is released as early and quickly as possible.”
Ms Bishop said she had discussed the case with her Egyptian counterpart this week and has pursued every channel available to make representations to authorities in Cairo.
The Latvia government has also spoken out about the detention of Greste, who is a dual Australian-Latvian citizen.
“We expect his immediate release as he has committed no crime,” Latvian foreign ministry spokesman Karlis Eihenbaums told AFP.
Greste’s parents Juris and Lois Greste said there were haunted and depressed after viewing images of their son in a caged dock in court.
“It certainly shocked me,” Juris said in Brisbane on Thursday.
“It absolutely rocked me to see him in the cage.”
Juris also described the harsh conditions of his son’s prison cell, which he shares with two other reporters for 23 hours a day.
He said they had no privacy and most food that reached them was cold.
“Peter says he now knows what it must be like for eskimos during long, cold dark winters,” Juris said.
Brother Mike Greste says the family wants Mr Abbott to intervene, but are willing to wait.
“Look no doubt (we would), but you know there is a time and a place for these things,” he told Fairfax Radio.
Mike says his family is optimistic the al-Jazeera journalist will be released.
The family believe there is little or no evidence to substantiate the charges against Greste who is due to reappear in court on March 24.
Al-Jazeera has been leading an international campaign demanding the release of Greste and eight other network staff, and has denied all charges against them.
Managing director of Al-Jazeera English, Al Anstey, said the network was again disappointed Greste and fellow journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed had not been released.