Sunday 20 October 2019

Trump has given green light to despots - Amal

Criticism: Amal Clooney spoke about Trump attacking press. Photo: John Sciulli/Getty Images for Farfetch
Criticism: Amal Clooney spoke about Trump attacking press. Photo: John Sciulli/Getty Images for Farfetch

Bethany Papworth

Amal Clooney has claimed Donald Trump gives the "green light" to autocratic regimes during a speech in which she warned against the US president's attacks on the press.

Speaking at the United Nations Correspondents Association Awards in New York, the human rights barrister criticised the president for labelling American journalists "the enemy of the people" as she drew a line between Mr Trump's rhetoric and the rise of populism around the world.

Speaking of a crackdown on dissent, she said: "The chilling effect is real and it has already been felt, not only in Myanmar but farther afield. And sadly similar examples abound in autocratic regimes from North Korea to the Philippines, to Hungary, Turkey and Brazil.

"The US president has given such regimes a green light and labelled the press in this country the enemy of the people."

She referred to the "brutal torture and death" two months ago of a 'Washington Post' journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

"In many of the cases that I have worked on too, I have seen journalists and opposition figures ruthlessly targeted so that they can no longer criticise leaders," she continued.

According to Turkish security sources, Mr Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia has admitted its agents killed Mr Khashoggi in a pre-calculated attack, but Riyadh has denied Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's involvement.

The Trump administration sanctioned 17 Saudi nationals over the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

Mr Trump himself has been cautious in directly criticising Saudi Arabia and has steered clear of apportioning blame to the crown prince, a key ally in the Middle East and major customer for US arms.

In her speech, Ms Clooney, who is married to US actor George Clooney, also spoke up for two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were jailed for seven years in Myanmar after covering the murders of the Rohingya religious minority.

Ms Clooney concluded: "And you, the press, are under attack like never before. You are being jailed at a higher rate than ever. You are dying while covering wars, not just because you walk unarmed on the most dangerous places on earth but because you are being targeted for exposing crimes committed, for speaking the truth that perpetrators find the most difficult to hear." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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