Amal Alamuddin, the new wife of Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney and leading human rights attorney, nearly went to jail in Egypt recently after she openly criticized the justice system there.
More specifically, Amal is upset about the retrial of three Al Jazeera journalists, Mr. Fahmy, Al Jazeera’s Egyptian-Canadian bureau chief, Australian former BBC journalist Peter Greste, and Egyptian freelance producer Baher Mohamed, who were jailed on charges of aiding terrorism in December 2013.
Us Magazine reports that the British-Lebanese lawyer, now known as Mrs. Clooney, published a report so politically sensitive that it could have landed her in a whole bunch of trouble.
As Amal said, “When I went to launch the report, first of all they stopped us from doing it in Cairo. 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.'”
In Egypt, insulting the judiciary is an imprisonable offense.
Amal Alamuddin compiled the report on behalf of the International Bar Association, and it highlights wide-ranging powers that Egypt’s government can wield over judges and state prosecutors, and recommended an end to its handpicking of judges in high profile cases.
During a fact-finding mission to Egypt in June 2013, Amal noted, as she told the Guardian at the time, “That recommendation wasn’t followed, and we’ve seen the results of that in this particular [Al Jazeera] case where you had a handpicked panel led by a judge who is known for dispensing brutal verdicts.”
Alamuddin’s services were engaged by Mr. Fahmy, after he became dissatisfied with the legal support he received from Al Jazeera.
In August, Amal wrote about the case, “Sentencing a political opponent to death after a show trial is no different to taking him out on the street and shooting him. In fact, it is worse because using the court system as a tool of state repression makes a mockery of the rule of law.”