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Amal Clooney: A free expression ally

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has represented numerous high-profile clients fighting for their right to freedom of expression, including Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova.

REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Reflecting on the case of prominent Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, Amal Clooney told RFE/RL:

I believe it's important to protect an individual journalist against a powerful state that has overstepped. This is about a government that is abusing its power to silence journalists like Khadija, as well as other critics of the ruling regime.

Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin) is a trilingual, award-winning barrister specializing in international law and human rights. She currently works with Doughty Street Chambers, a British firm “renowned for and committed to defending freedom and civil liberties.”

Since 2014, Clooney has received an immense amount of media attention for her marriage to actor George Clooney and her fashion sense. But the British-Lebanese lawyer was renowned in her field long before entertainment tabloids tracked her every outfit – and for good reason.

Clooney has represented high-profile clients including former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (over her politically-motivated detention), and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (in extradition proceedings).

Her client profile also includes Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who returned to Canada in October 2015 after spending two years in an Egyptian prison over 'terrorism-related' charges. Numerous IFEX members – particularly Canadian Journalists for Free Expression – advocated for Fahmy's release. When Fahmy and his colleague Baher Mohamed were pardoned in September 2015, Clooney stated “This is a historic day in Egypt where the government has finally corrected a longstanding injustice, and set two innocent men free.”

In January 2016, it was announced that Clooney would be representing award-winning investigative Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who has been behind bars since 2014 on what many consider to be politically-motivated charges. Many IFEX members, including the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety are also calling for charges against Ismayilova to be dropped and for the journalist to be released.

"It's important to fight for the right of journalists to tell the world what is happening in their countries," Clooney told RFE/RL in an e-mail regarding Ismayilova's case.

In addition to her extensive case profile, Clooney has worked as an adviser to Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League on Syria, and is a member of the Expert Panel of Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative – which seeks to gather evidence of sexual crimes committed in conflict zones.

Clooney is currently a visiting professor at Columbia Law School.

Last Updated: 8 April 2016

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