Amal Clooney is a moral mercenary. She's a lawyer. As the fiancée and then wife of George Clooney, she was thrust into a global spotlight, where she has been cast as a moral paragon, a human rights crusader for the downtrodden.
Clooney is also Amal Alamuddin, Oxford-educated, fee-charging lawyer who works both sides of the human rights contest.
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Amal Clooney visits jailed ex-Maldives president
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney meets with former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed in an island prison as she works to secure his release.
Acting for the defence of her latest client, Clooney has engaged in some questionable advocacy. It is one thing to proclaim your client's innocence, it is quite another to misrepresent the facts.
In an opinion piece published in The Guardian on April 30 last year, Clooney wrote that one of her clients, a former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, had been removed from power by an armed coup: "His presidency was cut short in February 2012 when he was forced to resign at gunpoint."
This is a central plank in the case that Nasheed is a martyr for democracy.
But the Commission of National Inquiry that examined Nasheed's departure from office found no evidence that he was deposed in a coup. The commission was advised by a former judge of the New Zealand Court of Appeal, a former judge of the Singapore Supreme Court, and a professor of human rights law at the University of Ottawa.
The commission found Nasheed had voluntarily tendered his resignation at 1.43pm on February 7, 2012, and that his resignation was not coerced. His replacement was sworn in later that day by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in accordance with the constitution.
The next day, Nasheed, a former journalist, told the media: "I was forced from office at gunpoint."
The commission found this inflammatory claim to be a fabrication: "Rather, it is evident that President Nasheed [had] lost the support of the coalition … which had brought him to power … There was no illegal coercion or intimidation nor any coup d'état. The commission received no evidence supporting or to substantiate these allegations."
Also damning is a taped phone conversation in which Nasheed, on the night of his resignation, calls for violence from his supporters:
"If we are able to find people willing to fight, we should let them loose. Find some young people in Male who are ready to fight the police. I am not sure we can get them. But I want to let them loose on the police tonight."
In other words, there is no substance to the foundation of the martyrdom narrative that Clooney has been propagating.
None of these selections from Clooney's resume should be read as an affront to her character. All accused are entitled to a robust legal defence.
Among critics of her conduct is Dr Michael Kennedy of Western Sydney University. Kennedy, a former police detective, has spent the past three years delivering a degree program in the Maldives for police, customs and immigration officers.
He believes Clooney has used her celebrity to engage in media manipulation:
"An inquiry by the Commonwealth secretariat supported none of Nasheed's claims that he was forced to resign after a military coup. It's seldom reported that in his pursuit of an old enemy, a Supreme Court Justice, he ignored the constitution and bypassed the Police Service. He and his legal team are now calling for sanctions against the Maldives. This could cause widespread human rights abuses by way of hardship and unemployment."
Nasheed, who last March was convicted of contentious and dubious charges of terrorism, is now in London to receive medical treatment.
He has been given a 30-day release from prison. He has said he will not return. Instead, he has used his time in London to traduce the Maldives as a country rife with Islamic fundamentalism, a claim calculated to inflict damage on a tourist-based economy.
Clooney has chimed in: "It may be famous for the pristine holiday beaches … but the Maldives has taken a dark authoritarian turn."
Kennedy, among others, disputes this as legal hyperbole. Nasheed's very freedom in London undermines his argument of sinister repression.
Clooney herself has taken work from the dark, authoritarian side. Her most notorious client was Abdullah Senussi, responsible for the murder or imprisonment of thousands of people as head of internal security for the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
He was convicted, in absentia, of having a key role in the bombing of a passenger jet in 1989 in which 170 people died. He is implicated in the 1988 bombing of an American airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 259 people were killed.
Another client of Clooney was King Hasan bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain. She acted as a legal adviser to the king during the Bassiouni Commission of Inquiry into the government's suppression of an uprising by Shiite Muslims in Bahrain in 2011.
The commission was set up by the king. It found that 46 people, including five members of the security forces, had been killed, that police had used excessive force, and 559 people had claimed they were tortured while in custody.
None of this should be read as an affront to her character. All accused are entitled to a robust legal defence. Barristers are ethically bound to mount a robust defence.
Last year, Nasheed's legal team filed a case with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an advisory body to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Working Group issued an opinion stating that Nasheed's incarceration was a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The government of the Maldives rejected this legal opinion. It also contends it is not bound by this opinion. Nasheed, by abrogating the terms of his release, has in effect freed himself,. But he has done so with the help of a government he claims is oppressive.
There are no heroes in this story. The Maldives imbroglio serves as a reminder not to be blinded by stardust.