Jailed former President Mohamed Nasheed’s international lawyers Jared Genser and Amal Clooney met with US Senator John McCain yesterday, stepping up their campaign seeking targeted sanctions to secure the opposition leader’s release.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 13, 2016
The high-profile lawyers have been lobbying the US government and lawmakers this week to impose asset freezes and travel bans against top Maldivian officials accused of human rights abuses.
Genser’s Freedom Now, a renowned Washington-based campaign group for political prisoners, urged President Barack Obama to issue an executive order for imposing targeted sanctions against key Maldivian officials.
President Abdulla Yameen’s repressive rule, “blind-eye” to religious extremism, and pervasive human rights abuses “constitute an extraordinary threat to US national security and foreign policy,” the NGO said Tuesday in a 30-page report.
After launching the report, the opposition leader’s international counsel also submitted a confidential list of perpetrators to the US government.
Genser along with Amal Clooney and Ben Emmerson have previously provided a similar list to the UK Foreign Office.
The pair along with former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem have also met with several US government officials and lawmakers in recent days, including the assistant secretary of state, Congressman Chris Smith, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Chris Murphy and officials at the White House.
As part of the campaign for Nasheed’s release, Clooney, a London-based human rights lawyer and wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney, will be doing her first US network television interview with NBC News anchor Cynthia McFadden today.
Part of the interview will air today during the Nightly News with Lester Holt with the rest scheduled for Friday on the The Today Show.
Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism in March over the military’s detention of a judge. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a 19-day widely criticised over apparent lack of due process.
McCain, chair of the senate armed services committee and a former Republican presidential candidate, had urged the US government to press for Nasheed’s release in June.
In May, US Secretary of State John Kerry had called Nasheed’s imprisonment an “injustice that needs to be addressed soon.”
In October, a UN human rights panel ruled that his imprisonment was arbitrary and politically motivated, but the government rejected the non-binding opinion as “flawed and premature.”
In December, the European parliament adopted a non-binding resolution both calling for Nasheed’s “immediate and unconditional release” and urging member states to impose targeted sanctions against state officials as well as pro-government businessmen.
President Abdulla Yameen had previously declared that the government will not bow to foreign pressure, insisting that Nasheed must exhaust the domestic appeal process to be eligible for clemency.
An appeal of Nasheed’s conviction is now before the Supreme Court.
In the face of mounting diplomatic pressure and growing calls for sanctions, the Maldivian government in early September hired Washington’s most prominent lobbyist firm, Podesta Group for a sum of US$300,000 to advocate on its behalf.