The walls have ears for Amal Clooney: Outrage over bugged conversations

Published September 13th, 2015 - 11:00 GMT
Government officials in the Maldives allegedly knew what was discussed by the time Amal and her team left the prison. (AFP/Str)
Government officials in the Maldives allegedly knew what was discussed by the time Amal and her team left the prison. (AFP/Str)

Amal Clooney and a fellow lawyer have accused the Maldives government of secretly recording a confidential discussion between themselves and their client while inside a state jail.

Clooney, a human rights lawyer and wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney, is currently representing deposed Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed.

The former leader is serving a 13-year sentence after a court found him guilty of terrorism for ordering the arrest of a senior judge when he was president three years ago.

Earlier this week, Clooney described the human rights situation in the Indian Ocean archipelago as 'deteriorating day by day' and she has previously labelled Nasheed's trial as 'phoney'.

However, fellow defence team member Jared Genser today accused the Maldives government of bugging a conversation his team had with Nasheed during a jailhouse visit.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Genser claimed he received a phone call from his wife that revealed government officials were already aware of sensitive details in the discussion, just moments after leaving the prison.

He said: 'It is the most flagrant breach of the fundamental right of a defendant to be able to have confidential client-attorney discussions about sensitive information for his case.'

He added he was 'utterly unsurprised but still outraged' by the clandestine bugging.

Meanwhile, Clooney has warned she will press for sanctions against the Maldives unless it frees Nasheed, who has been controversially jailed for 13 years.

London-based Clooney, who is defending the former leader, wrapped up a four-day visit to the upmarket honeymoon destination vowing that she will not give up until he was released.

'The next stage will be to pursue targeted sanctions, travel bans and any other action and recourse that we have against the government (of the Maldives) until this matter is resolved,' she told reporters. It is disappointing that it has come to this.'

She is due to visit neighbouring Sri Lanka Friday, where she will meet with top leaders and discuss Nasheed's case, official sources in Colombo said.

The charge against Nasheed relates to the ordering of the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge when he was still president in 2012. The UN had said his rushed trial earlier this year was seriously flawed.

His 13-year jail sentence was commuted to house arrest in July, but last month police took him back to prison in a surprise move that drew fresh criticism from the UN and the US.

Faced with mounting international pressure, Maldivian authorities have tried to distance themselves from the controversial judgement, saying that the state will take the unusual step of appealing his conviction.

The nation of 1,192 tiny coral islands scattered across the equator depends on upmarket tourism. However its image has suffered in recent years due to prolonged political unrest.

Nasheed was the country's first democratically elected leader. He ruled from 2008 to February 2012, when he was forced to resign following a mutiny by police and troops.

By Corey Charlton

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

You may also like