Amal Clooney to represent jailed former president of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has agreed to represent former President Mohamed Nasheed. (Image: Twitter)
Jailed former president of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday announced a high-profile international legal team, including prominent rights lawyer Amal Clooney, to prepare a fresh attempt to secure his release from prison.
Nasheed was imprisoned for 13 years last month following a rushed trial which the UN says was in violation of Maldives' own laws and practices and international standards.
Nasheed's office said three celebrity lawyers had agreed to represent him.
It named them as Jared Genser, who had represented Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi; Ben Emmerson, a judge on war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia; and Amal Clooney, the wife of Hollywood star George Clooney, who had defended the former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
"I am very pleased to have such an extraordinary team agree to take up my legal defence internationally," Nasheed was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.
It was not clear how the team would work to secure his release after a deadline to file a formal appeal against his conviction and sentence lapsed late last month.
Nasheed insisted that Maldivian authorities blocked his appeal by not releasing the court transcripts necessary to file it.
With the appointment of a foreign panel to represent him, Nasheed said he was eager to expose what he called the autocratic rule of President Abdulla Yameen.
"I am determined to ensure the world understands the injustice of my detention and the broader suffering of the Maldivian people under President Yameen," he said.
The Maldives government has resisted international pressure to release Nasheed, jailed under tough anti-terror laws for ordering the arrest of a chief judge in 2012 when he was president.
The Maldivian government said last month that Nasheed had decided not to appeal, a claim denied by the former president.
The decision to prosecute Nasheed under terror laws has made his conviction particularly controversial and sparked a series of protests.
Nasheed's party says the verdict has dealt a blow to the country's young democracy seven years after it embraced multi-party elections following three decades of rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the current leader's half-brother.
The opposition has held night-time rallies over the past year to protest at what it calls growing authoritarianism, which has damaged the atoll nation's image as a tourist paradise.