Monday 24 October 2016

Amal Clooney meets David Cameron in bid to free jailed former president of the Maldives

Tim Sculthorpe and Andrew Woodcock

Published 24/06/2015 | 19:00

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney
Amal and George Clooney

The lawyer wife of film star George Clooney has met Prime Minister David Cameron as part of her effort to free the jailed former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed.

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Amal Clooney and Mr Nasheed's wife Laila Ali spoke briefly with Mr Cameron following Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, asking whether there was anything more the PM could do to secure his release.

Human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney. Photo: Reuters
Human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney. Photo: Reuters

Mr Nasheed, the first democratically-elected leader of the Indian Ocean island state, was ousted in what supporters claim was a coup in 2012.

He was sentenced in March this year to 13 years in prison after being found guilty of terrorism.

A Downing Street source said that the Prime Minister has already written to the Maldives government on a couple of occasions about the issue of freeing political prisoners held in the country.

Human rights barrister Mrs Clooney is representing Mr Nasheed in his fight against what he says is a politically-motivated and arbitrary detention.

Number 10 said that the meeting with the PM was arranged at the last minute, after Mrs Clooney and Ms Ali watched PMQs from a gallery overlooking the Commons chamber.

They left the session about 15 minutes before the end, shortly after the main clashes between Mr Cameron and interim Labour leader Harriet Harman and SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson.

Mrs Clooney and Ms Ali later had discussions with foreign minister Hugo Swire at the Foreign Office.

Mr Swire said he "shared Laila Ali's concerns about the shrinkage of democratic space in the Maldives and the need for judicial reform".

A No 10 spokesman said that Mr Cameron had reiterated his concerns over Mr Nasheed's imprisonment and recent political developments in the Maldives when he met Ms Ali and Mrs Clooney.

"The Prime Minister has already written to president (Abdulla) Yameen to raise these concerns directly," the spokesman said.

"The Prime Minister's view is that there should be a political dialogue involving all parties to discuss the country's governance, including the independence of the judiciary, and that all political detainees, including former president Nasheed, should be released swiftly.

"We will continue to raise the case at all levels."

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