Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s high-profile international lawyer Amal Clooney visited him today for the first time at the high-security Maafushi prison.
Speaking to the press after the two-hour meeting, Clooney said Nasheed was in “remarkably good spirits” and that his message to the Maldivian people was to “remain hopeful that things will improve.”
“He’s pleased that I’ll be attending meetings on his behalf with the government this week,” she said.
President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali said in a tweet today that Attorney General Mohamed Anil will meet Nasheed’s foreign lawyers on behalf of the government. It is unclear when the meeting is scheduled to take place.
Clooney, a human rights lawyer and wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney, is working to free Nasheed along with Jared Genser, the founder of the renowned campaign group for political prisoners Freedom Now, and Ben Emmerson, a UN rights chief on counter-terrorism and human rights.
Genser is expected to arrive in the Maldives tomorrow afternoon.
Clooney told the press upon arriving at the Malé international airport yesterday that the international lawyers are “hoping to make some advances this week regarding President Nasheed’s case.”
The foreign ministry meanwhile said in a statement that the government has facilitated meetings with Nasheed for the foreign lawyers at the Maafushi jail.
“The Maldives Correctional Services will ensure that the proper environment and facilities are provided for the lawyers to communicate with President Nasheed,” the foreign ministry said.
The foreign ministry also said in a tweet today that the government is focused on “fair justice” in Nasheed’s case.
Maldives Government focused on fair justice on Pres. Nasheed case. Serious charges must not be forgotten amongst media hysteria #Maldives
— MFA-Maldives (@MDVForeign) September 8, 2015
The opposition leader was found guilty of terrorism in March over the military’s detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. The 19-day trial at the criminal court was widely criticised over its apparent lack of due process.
In late April, Nasheed’s international legal team filed a petition with the UN working group on arbitrary detention, requesting a judgment declaring his 13-year jail term arbitrary and illegal.
A ruling is expected in September, Nasheed’s office has said.
The government in its response to the UN working group insisted that judges followed due process in Nasheed’s trial. Omnia Strategy, chaired by Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, was commissioned to write the response.
Clooney and Genser are expected to stay in the Maldives until September 11.
The pair have previously accompanied Nasheed’s wife, Laila Ali, on visits with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US Secretary of State John Kerry, the UN human rights chief and EU parliamentarians.
On August 23, Nasheed was taken back to Maafushi jail after two months under house arrest, prompting the UN human rights chief as well as the American and British governments to renew calls for his release.
The High Court has meanwhile scheduled a preliminary hearing for 2:00pm tomorrow to determine whether to accept the prosecutor general’s (PG) appeal of Nasheed’s conviction.
The PG office announced its intention to appeal the 13-year jail sentence on July 23 amid negotiations between the government and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party. The main opposition party has since withdrawn from the talks following Nasheed’s transfer back to jail, citing the government’s refusal to honour its commitment to release Nasheed and other jailed opposition politicians.