Dismay in Australia as journalists are jailed in Egypt

Jon Donnison
Sydney correspondent

media captionThe verdicts were "feared but expected" by relatives, reports Christian Fraser

In Australia, the jail sentences handed down to al-Jazeera's journalists have been greeted with shock and dismay.

For his parents Juris and Lois in Queensland, their six-month nightmare continues.

Peter Greste has been one of Australia's most decorated and high-profile foreign correspondents.

Along with two colleagues he now faces many years in jail. The three men have been found guilty by an Egyptian court of spreading false news and supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group.

It's a blow to the Australian government who had lobbied hard on Peter Greste's behalf.

Their pleas and pressure, as well as those of just about everyone else, appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

"We are deeply shocked and dismayed," said Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, adding that she was "appalled by the severity" of the sentences.

It's a far cry from the relative confidence the Prime Minister Tony Abbott had shown earlier when talking about the outcome.

The government here will now have to decide what to do next.

The hope will be that the verdict in Egypt will set up the country's new President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to step in and issue a pardon.

But Ms Bishop said she understood that before any pardon could be issued, a full appeal process would have to be gone through.

media captionAustralia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop: ''I am bitterly disappointed''

She said she would be urging the Egyptian president to act sooner than that.

Thousands of people have been detained without fair trial in Egypt since the new government came to power.

Australia's journalistic community have been especially shocked by the verdict.

ABC America's correspondent Hamish Macdonald, an Australian native, tweeted: "Reason journalists feel so strongly about #AJTrial in Egypt is we all know this could be any one of us."

Ms Bishop said Peter Greste had been in "the wrong place at the wrong time".

In fact he was in the right place, at the right time, doing his job, covering an important story.

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