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Amal Clooney visits ex-leader Nasheed in Maldives jail

08 September 2015, 21:39

Colombo - Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney spent hours in a high security prison island in the Maldives Tuesday consulting with former president Mohamed Nasheed as part of efforts to secure his release.

Clooney, who as she arrived in the Maldives on Monday described the human rights situation in the Indian Ocean archipelago as "deteriorating day by day", stayed for two hours with the incarcerated former leader, his party said.

Also read: Amal Clooney flies to Maldives to defend Nasheed

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said Clooney has been granted a meeting with the Maldivian Attorney General Mohamed Anil on Wednesday.

"After that, Clooney will make a second visit to (jailed) president Nasheed at the Maafushi prison tomorrow," an MDP official told AFP by telephone.

Clooney told local reporters that Nasheed appeared in good spirits after visiting the high-security Maafushi prison located on a small islet near the capital island Male.

"President Nasheed is in remarkably good spirits, he wanted me to convey to the people of Maldives that they should remain hopeful that things will improve and he is pleased that I'll be attending meetings on his behalf with the government this week," she said.

Clooney is pressing for the immediate release of Nasheed who was jailed for 13 years following a highly controversial terrorism conviction in March, sparking widespread international condemnation.

She is part of a high-profile legal team representing Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader who ruled from 2008 to February 2012 when he was forced to resign following a mutiny by police and troops.

Her visit to the honeymoon islands comes days after his local lawyer Mahfooz Saeed was stabbed by an unknown attacker.

"I'm here unfortunately at a time when the human rights situation and security situation is deteriorating day by day," she said soon after landing on Monday.

Nasheed's 13-year jail sentence was commuted to house arrest in July, but last month police took him back to prison in a surprise move that drew fresh criticism from the UN and the US.

Clooney is due to be joined by her Washington-based co-counsel Jared Genser on Wednesday, the MDP said.

Nasheed was convicted for ordering the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge while he was still president, charges which his MDP described as politically motivated.

The resulting political fallout has damaged the island's reputation as a honeymoon paradise, and brought crowds of protesters onto the streets of Male.

Clooney, a respected human rights lawyer who shot to international stardom when she married actor George Clooney, was named in April as part of Nasheed's international legal team along with Genser who has previously represented Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi and Ben Emmerson, a judge on war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.



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