This Parliament is still reeling from the decision of an Egyptian court on Monday night and the sentences it handed down to Australian Journalist Peter Greste and his two Al-Jazeera colleagues Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed.
I think we are all still in shock. I am sure I speak for all Australian’s when I say that this just doesn’t make sense.
Peter Greste is a journalist and journalism is not a crime.
But these men have been locked up for doing just that…for doing their job.
Our hearts go out to them and to Peter’s mum and dad who have shown such stoicism and grace in such awful circumstances…and to Peter’s brothers Andrew and Mike who are doing what we would hope any brother would do – standing right beside him when needs them the most.
He also needs us.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, Labor will do everything that we can to assist the Government in securing Peter’s release.
As Foreign Minister has said and she said this the other night, this kind of verdict does nothing to support Egypt’s claim to be on a transition to democracy. She is right.
Freedom of the Press is a non-negotiable part of any democratic nation.
For Egypt to be a democratic country Freedom of the Press means that this must be protected and Peter Greste and his colleagues must be released.
As Peter’s mother and father said yesterday, “This man, our son Peter, is an award winning journalist. He is not a criminal.”
He should be arriving home and into his parent’s arms and not in a maximum security cell in Cairo and it is our responsibility to work together towards that end.