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Amal Alamuddin Lays Down the Law on Jailing Journalists in Egypt

Alamuddin, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law, criminal law, human rights and extradition, notes that four successive governments in Egypt have used sham trials and questionable laws to silence media freedom and freedom of speech, with the Al Jazeera trial being a clear example of this.  She outlines the clear breaches of law and due process in the case of Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed in her opinion piece ‘The Anatomy of an Unfair Trial’. “The first lesson in how to pull off a show trial is that it helps to have antiquated laws that criminalize ordinary (and necessary) speech.” “What else does the Al Jazeera case teach us is needed for show trials? You must present some sort of evidence so that it looks like a real case, and if you do not fabricate it then at least make it secret or irrelevant.” “Of course, no real subversion of justice would be complete without a wholesale denial of due process for the defense. Here, the judge denied bail for no good reason and then told the defense to pay $170,000 to view the video evidence that would be presented against them.”

Alamuddin notes the newly formed Egyptian Government under President Sisi has the opportunity to amend this: “This case will set a precedent for press freedom and nascent democracies in the region, and presents President Sisi with an opportunity to show that this administration is a true new beginning.” Alamuddin is one of a number of high profile legal experts who have criticised the sentencing of the Al Jazeera journalists. Her clients include Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in his fight against extradition and the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko. In June 2013, she was part of a delegation from the International Bar Association formed to advise on reforming Egypt's judicial system and constitution.  

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