* Australian Senator calls for sanctions against Egypt
* Australia FM summons top Egyptian diplomat in country
* Family of Australian journalist "shattered"
(Recasts after Australian foreign minister summons Egyptian
diplomat to complain)
By Matt Siegel
SYDNEY, June 24 Australia summoned a senior
Egyptian diplomat on Tuesday to protest against the sentencing
of an Australian reporter, one of three Al Jazeera journalists
jailed for seven years by an Egyptian judge in a verdict that
left his family "shattered".
The three journalists, including Australian Peter Greste,
all denied the charge of working with the now-banned Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt.
Sentenced in a Cairo court on Monday, they have been held at
Egypt's notorious Tora Prison for six months, with the case
becoming a rallying point for rights groups and news
organisations around the world.
A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Bishop
had called in the deputy Egyptian ambassador so that Australia
could continue to "express their disappointment". She did not
have further details about the meeting. The Egyptian ambassador
to Australia is in Cairo.
Greste was sentenced along with Egyptian producer Baher
Mohamed and Canadian-Egyptian national Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo
bureau chief of Al Jazeera English.
Cairo defended the journalists' convictions - for aiding a
"terrorist organisation" - and rejected the widespread
condemnation as "interference in its internal affairs".
Greste's parents told a news conference in Brisbane on
Tuesday their son was not a criminal.
"This man, our son, Peter, is an award-winning journalist.
He is not a criminal," said his father, Juris Greste.
"To us, it is not just affecting the Greste family. We put
it to you that it is also a slap in the face and a kick in the
groin to Australia, as well as all fair-minded people around the
world," he said.
Despite the growing outcry, Australian Prime Minister Tony
Abbott struck a cautious tone on Tuesday, somewhat softening his
government's furious initial reaction.
"I do understand that once the court system has done its
work, there are options for presidential acts - presidential
clemency, presidential pardons and so on - and that's why I'm
not in the business of being critical of the government as
such," Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
"What we don't want to do is engage in unhelpful megaphone
diplomacy because that won't do Peter Greste any good, it won't
do his two Al Jazeera colleagues any good," he said.
The verdict has caused outrage within Australia, with at
least one senior politician going so far as to raise the
possibility of levelling sanctions against Egypt government,
something Abbott's government has so far ruled out.
Senator Christine Milne, the leader of the small opposition
Greens Party, warned against putting faith in an Egyptian
judicial system she said has already been "shown to be a joke".
"I think our best hope is for President (Abdel Fattah)
al-Sisi to intervene and pardon the journalists concerned and
let them leave the country but, in order for pressure to build
on Egypt, I think we should consider sanctions," she said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Egypt's foreign
minister on Monday to register his "serious displeasure" at what
he described as the "chilling, draconian sentences".
The three men were detained in December and charged with
helping "a terrorist group" - a reference to the Muslim
Brotherhood - by broadcasting lies that harmed national security
and supplying money, equipment and information.
The Brotherhood was banned and declared a terrorist group
after the Egyptian army deposed elected Islamist president
Mohamed Mursi in July following mass protests against his rule.
The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful organisation.
(Editing by Paul Tait)