Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who married Hollywood superstar George Clooney in September, claimed Egypt threatened her with arrest due to a report she released that was critical of the country’s judicial system. Such claims had previously led to the arrest and conviction of three al-Jazeera journalists. However, Egypt wants proof from Clooney the government issued the warning.
“She should say exactly who said that,” said Interior Ministry Spokesman Abdel Latif. “Why not specify from the start who told her that? We have nothing against her.”
Police General Hany Abdellatif told The Guardian that Egypt never listed her for arrest.
“There is nothing against Mrs. Amal,” he said. “Maybe someone deceived her. Maybe members of the Muslim Brotherhood [an Egyptian opposition group] or others to delude her that there are no freedoms in Egypt.”
Clooney released the report in February, before she decided to represent Mohamed Fahmy, one of the detained al-Jazeera journalists. She claimed “they”– presumably Egyptian government officials– threatened her entire team with arrest over it.
“When I went to launch the report, first of all they stopped us from doing it in Cairo,” she told The Guardian. “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.’”
Clooney said Egypt’s judicial system should be more independent because of “the wide powers that ministers had over judges.” The report “highlighted a record of selective prosecutions.” A new judge granted the three men a retrial, but Clooney fears these flaws “will compromise the integrity of any second hearing.” Instead, she is now lobbying for Egypt to deport Fahmy, who holds a Canadian passport, under new laws set in place from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The new law “allows for foreign convicts or suspects to be transferred to their country to serve their sentence or to be tried there.” An Egyptian court originally sentenced the three men to seven to ten years in jail “for spreading lies to help a ‘terrorist organization’ – a reference to Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.”
“There are many different ways in which the transfer from Egypt to Canada can occur, and as long as there is a genuine commitment on both sides, I see no reason why a transfer can’t happen in fairly quick terms,” said Clooney.
She wants to meet with Canadian foreign minister John Baird to move the process along.
“We are very much hoping that the Canadian and Egyptian officials we have contacted will engage with us fully to ensure that Mohamed is involved – through his counsel – in the discussions and that a fair outcome can be achieved as soon as possible,” she said.