Abbott says there's still hope for journalist Peter Greste
THE Egyptian legal system must be "respected" but there is hope for presidential clemency, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday as jailed journalist Peter Greste began appeal proceedings.
Greste is banking on his "flawed" trial winning him freedom.
The Australian-born Al Jazeera reporter has lodged an appeal against his conviction for having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Greste, along with Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, was convicted in June for aiding the movement and implying through news reports that Egypt was in a state of "civil war".
Greste's seven-year jail term led to world-wide condemnation and outrage.
Mr Abbott said he had spoken to the Egyptian government about the case.
"I've had two conversations with Egyptian presidents about this. I certainly want Peter Greste and his colleagues out as quickly as possible because as far as I can work out they were just doing their job," he told an Adelaide radio station.
"Now, obviously I accept that the Egyptian legal system has to be given due respect.
"I'm not going to comment on the legal tactics of the Greste family's lawyers, I just want to do whatever we reasonably can to get Peter Greste and his colleagues released as quickly as possible.
"My understanding is that it's only after all legal processes have been exhausted that there is the possibility of presidential clemency.
"So, I'd rather expected to be on the phone to the President of Egypt soon, but given this appeal it might take a little longer because he's obviously going to say to me, well, we've got to see where this appeal goes before I can get involved.
Al-Jazeera said appeal points included flaws in the arrest procedure and that evidence presented in court did not "marry with the charges".
"Lawyers for the jailed Al-Jazeera journalists in Egypt have today filed appeals against their convictions," the ABC reported Al-Jazeera as saying yesterday.
"The weaknesses in the case have been widely protested and ridiculed and much of the public criticism is reflected in the grounds for appeal."
Al-Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said he hoped Greste would be exonerated.
"The appeal will lay bare the flaws in the case against Peter, Baher and Mohammed," he said.
"We look forward to them being exonerated in due course.
"We will not stop in this quest till they are reunited with their families, and back doing the jobs they love."
The appeal will be heard by the Court of Cassation.
A date has not been set for the appeal.
Greste and Fahmy received seven-year terms, while Mohamed was jailed for 10 years, in a case that sparked international outrage.
Eleven others were given 10-year sentences.