Amal Clooney Threatened By Egyptian Authorities, ‘Risking Arrest’ For Blasting Justice System

Jonathan Vankin - Author
By

Jan. 2 2015, Updated 10:32 a.m. ET

Amal Clooney, despite the tabloid fascination with her marriage to Hollywood star George Clooney, continues her work as a courageous and respected human rights lawyer. The former Amal Alamuddin revealed in an interview published Friday that she was threatened by authorities in Egypt with arrest — and possible confinement in a brutal Egyptian prison — if she presented a report that blasted the country’s judicial system as politically corrupt.

The report was compiled by Clooney for the International Bar Association, and it ripped Egyptian judges and prosecutors as puppets of the Egyptian government, who pursue and rule on cases based on the whims of their political masters, rather than on independent legal and factual merits.

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“When I went to launch the report, first of all they stopped us from doing it in Cairo,” Amal Clooney told Britain’s Guardian newspaper in the Friday interview. “They said: ‘Does the report criticise the army, the judiciary, or the government?’ We said: ‘Well, yes.’ They said: ‘Well then, you’re risking arrest.'”

After Amal Clooney compiled her report, her conclusions were painfully vindicated by the case of three journalists for the Al-Jazeera new agency, who were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for supposedly reporting false news about the Egyptian government.

Clooney said that if her reports call to stop the practice of allowing political officials to hand-pick judges and prosecutors for specific cases, the journalists — whose sentences were cancelled this week after they had spent a year in Egyptian jails — would not have met the same fate.

“That recommendation wasn’t followed, and we’ve seen the results of that in this particular case where you had a handpicked panel led by a judge who is known for dispensing brutal verdicts,” Clooney told the paper. “And this one was no different.”

Clooney went on to serve as a lawyer in that case, but the judge was a political appointee named Mohamed Nagy Shehata who taunted the defendants in the trial, which he conducted while wearing aviator sunglasses on the bench.

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The same judge later pronounced a mass death sentence on 188 people who were accused of attacking a police station even though, Clooney says, the judge made no effort to distinguish which defendants actually took part in the attack.

The three Al-Jazeera journalists were granted a new trial in the ruling handed down in Egypt on New Year’s Day, but Amal Clooney says their initial trial was such a transparent sham and “travesty of justice” that she is pessimistic a new trial will serve justice any better.

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“I don’t see how the prosecution can proceed again in a trial process even if the judges were to be constituted properly this time around,” she said. “I don’t see how they could fix the lack of evidence.”

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Clearly, no matter what transpires in her marriage with George Clooney, Amal Clooney will continues as one of the top human rights advocates in the world, no matter how often she is threatened.

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