Stepping off the red carpet and away from the arm of her movie star husband, Amal Clooney made her first US television interview on Thursday night as part of her day job as a high-powered human rights lawyer.
The 37-year-old British barrister, who is in Washington D.C. this week on a business trip, appeared on NBC News tonight to discuss the current human rights issues in the Maldives.
Sitting down with Cynthia McFadden on the Nightly News With Lester Holt, Clooney said: ‘Democracy is dead in the Maldives.’
‘Literally, if there were an election now there would be no one to run against the president. Every opposition leader is either behind bars or being pursued by the government through the courts.’
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‘Democracy is dead in the Maldives’: Amal Clooney sat down for her first US television interview on Thursday night, speaking to NBC News about her human rights work in the Maldives, for which she is in Washington DC
Clooney has spent the week meeting with lawmakers to discuss issues of human rights in the Maldives, particularly the plight of her client, Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s former president, who is in prison
Amal Clooney walks with NBC’s Cynthia McFadden in Washington D.C. this week during her interview
Clooney has been joined in Washington by her co-counsel, Jared Genser (left), a veteran human-rights attorney and founder of Freedom Now
On Wednesday Clooney met with Senator John McCain and other lawmakers in an attempt to lobby Congress to level sanctions against the Maldives unless they release political prisoners, particularly former president Mohamed Nasheed.
Clooney is representing Nasheed for free in an attempt to get him free.
Nasheed has served six months of a 13-year prison sentence on a terrorism charge, in violation of international law.
The charge relates to the ordering of the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge when Nasheed was still president in 2012.
Clooney said her reasoning for accepting the case was simple.
‘I thought to myself – the world needs more Nasheeds,’ she said.
Wrongly imprisoned: Former Maldives presiden Mohamed Nasheed, who had previously been a human rights activist, has served six months of a 13-year prison sentence on a terrorism charge
Hopes for Nasheed’s release increased after his party and the government started negotiations in June and Nasheed’s lawyers said that his sentence had been commuted to house arrest.
However he was sent back to prison after eight weeks and the government said that the house arrest was only a temporary measure considering Nasheed’s health.
Nasheed in 2008 became the country’s first democratically elected president, ending a 30-year autocratic rule.
He resigned in 2012 amid weeks of public protests against the arrest of the judge and after losing support from the military and police.
Nasheed lost the 2013 presidential election to President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, a half-brother to the country’s former strongman ruler.
On Wednesday Clooney met with Senator John McCain and other lawmakers in an attempt to lobby Congress to level sanctions against the Maldives unless they release political prisoners
In October, Clooney and her team won a legal victory when the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled Nasheed had been not been granted a fair trial, USA Today reported.
While the highly-regarded lawyer did not talk of her husband, George Clooney, during the NBC sit-down, she did allude to the fact her newfound celebrity was helping her humanitarian work.
Her and Clooney celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary in September.
‘I think its lovely that celebrities would chose their time and energy and the spotlight to do something worthwhile,’ she said.
‘I am still doing the same jobs as I was doing before. If there is more attention being paid than there was before, then that’s good.’
Outside of work: Amal and George Clooney are pictured going out together for sushi in Hollywood last year. They have been married just over one year
Clooney also said she has been trying to juggle her own celebrity with her career.
‘I think there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with that,’ she said.
‘And I think I’m exercising it in an appropriate manner by continuing to do this kind of work.’
Amal Clooney attends a press conference at Doughty Street Chambers on October 5, 2015 in London