Amal Clooney, the prominent international human rights barrister, was threatened with arrest by Egyptian officials, over a report she wrote that was critical of the country's judicial system.
In an interview with The Guardian, Clooney said, "When I went to launch the report, first of all they stopped us from doing it in Cairo... "They said: 'Does the report criticize the army, the judiciary, or the government?' We said: 'Well, yes.' They said: 'Well then, you're risking arrest'."
In Egypt, insulting the judiciary is an imprisonable offense, according to The Telegraph.
Clooney is representing Mohamed Fahmy, one of three Al Jazeera journalists who were controversially convicted on charges of assisting the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, and reporting false news. The trio is facing a retrial on the charges of which they were convicted. The trio received sentences ranging from seven to ten years at their first trial.
Clooney's report cited the inappropriate influence that Egyptian politicians have over the court system and prosecutors, which it says contributed to the conviction and imprisonment of the journalists.
An Egyptian court ordered a retrial for the three on Thursday, and acknowledged that there were problems with their initial conviction. The retrial is due to be held within a month.
Reacting to the ruling, an Al Jazeera spokesman said: “The Egyptian authorities have a simple choice -- free these men quickly, or continue to string this out, all the while continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world.”
Clooney, however, expressed doubts that the retrial would be any fairer than its predecessor. “If the idea is: well, there were errors and now there’s going to be a retrial, but then the retrial operates on the same basis as the original one, that doesn’t really mean much,” she told The Guardian.
Two of the three journalists, Fahmy, a Canadian citizen, and Peter Greste, an Australian citizen, have applied to be deported to their home countries, under the terms of a new presidential decree, and are awaiting a response. The third convicted journalist, Baher Mohamed, does not have this option, as he holds only Egyptian citizenship, according to Sky News.