Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pleaded with Egypt about the need for a free press as Australian journalist Peter Greste faces court for the first time.

Egypt could benefit from a free press but that’s not compatible with harassing journalists going about their business, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

His comments come as the country prepares to put Australian journalist Peter Greste on trial.

The 48-year-old Al-Jazeera reporter will, along with some of his network colleagues, face a bail hearing for the first time on Thursday, seven weeks after being detained by Egyptian authorities.

They’re accused of backing the black-listed Muslim Brotherhood and portraying Egypt in a state of civil war.

Mr Abbott won’t comment on overseas court cases involving Australians.

But he wanted to make a “strong” point that a free press was in the interests of all countries, including Egypt.

He says a free press will benefit Egypt in the long-term.

“Obviously a free press is not compatible with harassing journalists going about their ordinary businesses,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.

Greste’s Brisbane-based parents Juris and Lois say they’re hopeful the bail application will be granted for their son, who was keeping “mind and body together”.

The hearing will provide Mr Greste’s defence team an opportunity to hear the evidence against him.

“We haven’t been told of any likely outcomes, it’s all conjecture and guesswork,” Juris Greste told the ABC on Thursday.