Amal Clooney: Egypt Threatened To Arrest Me
Amal Clooney says she was threatened with arrest while preparing a report on judicial system abuses in Egypt. Clooney represents one of the three Al-Jazeera journalists currently jailed in Cairo, and told The Guardian after an appeal hearing this week that last year, before she became involved in the case, Egyptian officials warned her that a report she assembled on behalf of the International Bar Association could land Clooney in major trouble.
“When I went to launch the report, first of all they stopped us from doing it in Cairo,” Clooney tells the outlet. “They said: ‘Does the report criticize the army, the judiciary, or the government?’ We said: ‘Well, yes.’ They said: ‘Well then, you’re risking arrest.’”
Clooney’s report called out Egypt’s judicial system for being less independent than is reasonable, specifically the country’s practice of allowing officials to handpick certain judges for politicized cases. Clooney recommended an end to that pattern, which has persisted in the Al-Jazeera case and beyond. “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,” said Clooney. “And this one was no different.”
She believes that the Al-Jazeera journalists, who have been granted a re-trail after originally being sentenced to between seven and 10 years behind bars for allegedly endangering national security, are likely doomed by Egypt’s questionable legal processes. “If the idea is: well, there were errors and now there’s going to be a retrial, but then the retrial operates on the same basis as the original one, that doesn’t really mean much,” she explains.