A fight on her hands: Amal Clooney arrives in the Maldives

Published September 8th, 2015 - 11:00 GMT
The Lebanese-British human rights lawyer arrived in Male with her team to press for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed. (AFP/Adam Sireii)
The Lebanese-British human rights lawyer arrived in Male with her team to press for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed. (AFP/Adam Sireii)

Amal Clooney may have another difficult fight on her hands with her latest legal battle, but the human rights lawyer received a warm welcome when she arrived in the Maldives on Monday.

The 37-year-old greeted a large crowd as she touched down in the capital Male, where she is pressing for the release of Maldives' jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Amal, who is the wife of actor George Clooney, is part of the ex-leader's high-profile legal team who are fighting for the release of the politician, who is currently being held in Maafushi jail.

Along with her legal team co-counsel Jared Genser, Amal has travelled to the island republic's capital to make the case heard.

The United States, the European Union and India have all expressed concern at the jailing of Nasheed for 13 years for ordering the detention of a judge in 2012 when he was still president.

Last week the United States called for the Maldives government to release the former president after he was sent back to prison from house arrest.

Nasheed was Maldives' first leader after democratic reforms in 2008 but his presidency was cut short in February 2012 when, according to Amal and her team, 'he was forced to resign at gunpoint.'

Writing in the Guardian last month, under a piece titled 'Release Mohamed Nasheed – an innocent man and the Maldives' great hope', Amal called the 2013 conviction, 'a politically motivated show trial.'

'Nasheed’s conviction for “terrorism” and the crushing 13-year sentence are a mockery of justice, designed to punish him for criticising the government and remove him as a political threat...Nasheed’s conviction sends a loud and clear message to the Maldivian people: opposition to the ruling regime will not be tolerated,' she added.

In a new statement released just before her visit to Male, Amal said, 'President Nasheed's unjust imprisonment has led to the largest protest movement in Maldivian history, and protesters have in turn been added to the list of political prisoners in the country. My co-counsel and I will continue to pursue all legal and diplomatic strategies to secure our client's release, including through the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.'

After visiting the Maldives, Amal and her co-counsel will travel to Sri Lanka and India for further meetings regarding the case.
Amal, who was dressed in a smart black shirt and white trousers, looked in good spirits despite a difficult fight ahead.has been juggling a number of high-profile international cases this summer.

Just over a week ago the lawyer was representing Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy in an Egypt courtroom, who was charged, along with his colleagues Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste, with operating without a press licence and broadcasting material harmful to Egypt.

The three men were each handed three-year jail terms at the hearing at Cairo’s Tora Prison.

Afterwards Amal, whose presence in court received more attention than her client’s from photographers and TV crews, denounced the jail terms as ‘sending a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political oppression and propaganda’.

A week before that case, Amal was with her husband as she joined the Hollywood star at a bash to launch his new tequila in Ibiza, after flying in from their home in Lake Como, Italy, where the couple have spent much of their summer.

By Joanna Crawley

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