Tony Abbott has lobbied Egypt’s new president for the release of Australian journalist Peter Greste.
The prime minister says he spoke to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over the weekend, as a Cairo court prepares to deliver its verdict in Greste’s trial later on Monday.
Greste and two other reporters working for the Al Jazeera English news network were arrested in December, accused of spreading false news and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood group.
“I assured him – as a former journalist myself – that Peter Greste would have been reporting the Muslim Brotherhood, not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood,” Mr Abbott told the Seven Network on Monday.
“Because that’s what Australian journalists do.”
Mr Abbott says the president understood Australia’s position.
“I think he understands that this would be a PR coup for the new government if Peter Greste is not dealt with severely,” he said.
“I made my point. I made it as clearly as I could.”
The talks between the two leaders follow similar lobbying by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who spoke with her recently appointed Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri over the weekend.
If convicted, the Australian journalist faces at least 15 years in jail.