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Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin; Arabic: أمل علم الدين; born 3 February 1978) is a Lebanese-British barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights. Her clients include the likes of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in his fight against extradition; the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko; and Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. She is married to American actor George Clooney. Amal Alamuddin was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her first name is derived from Arabic أمل ʾamal, meaning "hope".
Clooney in 2018
(1978-02-03) 3 February 1978 (age 41)
George Clooney (m. 2014)
Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin; Arabic: أمل علم الدين; born 3 February 1978) is a Lebanese-British barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights. Her clients include the likes of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in his fight against extradition; the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko; and Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. She is married to American actor George Clooney.
During the 1980s Lebanese Civil War, Alamuddin's family left Lebanon and settled in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. She learned English watching her favourite show "The Facts of Life," and was two years old at the time. Her father, Ramzi Alam Uddin, from a Lebanese Druze family from Baakline (a village in the Chouf district), received his MBA degree at the American University of Beirut and was the owner of COMET travel agency. He returned to Lebanon in 1991. Her mother, Bariaa Miknass, from a family of Sunni Muslims from Tripoli in Northern Lebanon, is a foreign editor of the Pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat and a founder of the public relations company International Communication Experts, which is part of a larger company that specialises in celebrity guest bookings, publicity photography, and event promotion.
Alamuddin's mother, Baria Alamuddin, is a well-known political journalist. She states, "My pregnancy with Amal was a rather difficult one," as she had placenta praevia and spent two months in the hospital. "At some point, I was told that I should lose the baby. I said no. I kept on having these dreams in which I would see her face and how she was going to look. In the end, [she] was born exactly as I saw her." The birth came during a lull in Lebanon's civil war, so her father named her Amal – Arabic for "hope."
Clooney attended Dr Challoner's High School, a girls' grammar school located in Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire. She then studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, where she received an Exhibition and the Shrigley Award. In 2000, Clooney graduated with a BA degree in Jurisprudence (Oxford's equivalent to the LLB) from St Hugh's College, Oxford.
The following year, in 2001, she entered New York University School of Law to study for the LLM degree. She received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law. For one semester while at NYU, she worked in the office of Sonia Sotomayor, then a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Clooney is qualified to practice as a lawyer in the United States and the United Kingdom. She was admitted to the bar in New York in 2002 and in England and Wales in 2010. She has also practiced at international courts in The Hague including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.
In 2004, she completed a judicial clerkship at the International Court of Justice. She clerked under Judge Vladlen S. Vereshchetin from Russia, Judge Nabil Elaraby from Egypt, and ad hoc Judge Sir Franklin Berman from the United Kingdom.
She was subsequently based in The Hague working in the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon and at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Clooney returned to Britain in 2010, where she became a barrister in London (Bar of England & Wales, Inner Temple) at Doughty Street Chambers. In 2013 Clooney was appointed to a number of United Nations commissions, including as adviser to Special Envoy Kofi Annan on Syria and as Counsel to the 2013 Drone Inquiry by UN human rights rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC into the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations.
Clooney has been involved in high-profile cases representing the state of Cambodia, the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdallah Al Senussi, Yulia Tymoshenko and Julian Assange, and was an adviser to the King of Bahrain in connection with the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry headed by Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni.
For the Spring 2015 and 2016 academic semesters, Clooney was a visiting faculty member and a senior fellow with Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute. She was a co-professor with Sarah H. Cleveland in Cleveland's course on human rights and taught a class on human rights litigation to students in the school's Human Rights Clinic.
Clooney has also lectured students on international criminal law at the Law School of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, The New School in New York City, The Hague Academy of International Law, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Starting in 2014, Clooney represented Canadian Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy who, along with other journalists, was being held in Egypt. He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison and lost a retrial in August 2015 before finally being pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
In October 2014, Clooney was hired in attempt to repatriate the ancient Greek sculptures the Elgin Marbles. In May 2015, Greece decided to stop legal proceedings to recover the sculptures and dismissed her as their brief.
In January 2015, Clooney began work on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. She is representing Armenia on behalf of Doughty Street Chambers along with Geoffrey Robertson QC. She said Turkey's stance was hypocritical "because of its disgraceful record on freedom of expression", including prosecutions of Turkish-Armenians who campaign for the 1915 massacres to be called a genocide. She is representing Armenia in the case against Doğu Perinçek, whose 2007 conviction for genocide denial and racial discrimination was overturned in Perinçek v. Switzerland (2013). A "minor internet frenzy" resulted from her bon mot prior to the 28 January 2015 hearing. In response to a journalist pestering her over what designer gown she would be wearing in court, she replied "Ede & Ravenscroft" – the tailors who make her court robes.
On 8 March 2015, Clooney filed a case against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines before the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a body under the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, for the continued detention of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Arroyo was a sitting Pampanga congresswoman at the time. On 2 October, The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention later released its opinion that the detention of former President Arroyo "violates international law" and is "arbitrary on a number of grounds."
On 7 April 2015, it was announced that Clooney would be part of the legal team defending Mohamed Nasheed, former President of the Maldives, in his ongoing arbitrary detention. Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail in March 2015 following what was characterized as a politically motivated trial. Amnesty International described his sentencing as a "travesty of justice." Prior to visiting the Maldives, the local co-counsel working on the case was stabbed in the head, an indication of the danger and instability in the country. In January 2016, Clooney gave a series of interviews about the UN-condemned trial and imprisonment of Nasheed and put forth efforts to support imposing sanctions on the Maldives. According to The Economist, she has "helped strengthen the backing of Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, for the cause of Maldivian democracy."
In June 2015, Clooney began work on the recently re-opened Hooded Men case brought by the Irish government against the British government in the European Court of Human Rights. Clooney worked with Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan on the case, which concerned policies used by UK Prime Minister Edward Heath (1970–1974) in Operation Demetrius that included the illegal interrogation methods known as five techniques. In September 2018, the court rejected the final appeal in the case.
Clooney is part of the legal team representing Louis Olivier Bancoult and Chagos islanders on their claim that they had been forced off their island, Diego Garcia, in 1971 by the UK government to make way for a U.S. military base.
In 2016, it was announced that Clooney will represent Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights. Ismayilova's investigative work had resulted in her imprisonment. Following the trial, Ismayilova was released from prison and had her sentence reduced to a suspended three-and-a-half year term.
In September 2016, Clooney spoke – for the first time at the United Nations – before the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to discuss the decision she made in June 2016 to represent Murad as a client in legal action against ISIL commanders. Clooney characterised the genocide, rape, and trafficking as a "bureaucracy of evil on an industrial scale" by ISIL, describing a slave market existing both online, on Facebook and in the Middle East that is still active today.
On 25 February 2014, the UK Attorney General's Office appointed Clooney for the period 2014 to 2019 to the C Panel of the Public International Law Panel of Counsel.
On 2 January 2015, it was reported by The Guardian that before Clooney was involved as Rapporteur in the case against Mohamed Fahmy, she had written a report in February 2014 for the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) that was critical of Egypt's judiciary process. Clooney and others were warned that there was a strong possibility they would be arrested if they entered Egypt, as a result of the criticism.
Clooney studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, where she received an Exhibition and the Shrigley Award. Clooney received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law from NYU School of Law.
Clooney was chosen as Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of 2015. At the 2014 British Fashion Awards, Clooney was shortlisted for Best British Style alongside David Beckham, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and Emma Watson.
Clooney is the president of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which she co-founded with her husband George Clooney in late 2016 to advance justice in courtrooms, communities, and classrooms around the world.
Clooney partnered with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative in beginning the Amal Clooney Scholarship, which was created to send one female student from Lebanon to the United World College Dilijan each year, to enroll in a two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.
Amal Clooney is fluent in English, French and conversational Arabic. Her father is a Lebanese Druze and her mother is a Lebanese Sunni Muslim. Some reports have described Clooney as a Druze. However, it is unlikely that she considers herself a part of the religion in any capacity, due to the Druze restriction on exogamy, her mother's Muslim faith, and her marriage to non-Druze George Clooney. She has not publicly discussed her religion, but her husband said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Amal Clooney is "nondenominational....not religious at all".
She became engaged to actor George Clooney on 28 April 2014. In July 2014, George Clooney publicly criticised the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail after it claimed his fiancée's mother opposed their marriage on religious grounds. When the tabloid apologised for its false story, he refused to accept the apology. He called the paper "the worst kind of tabloid. One that makes up its facts to the detriment of its readers."
On 7 August 2014, the couple obtained marriage licences in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. They married on 27 September 2014 in Venice's city hall (at Ca' Farsetti), following a high-profile wedding ceremony two days earlier, also in Venice. They were married by Clooney's friend Walter Veltroni, former mayor of Rome. The wedding was widely reported in the media. In October 2014, it was announced that the Clooneys had bought the Mill House on an island in the River Thames at Sonning Eye in England at a cost of around £10 million.
In February 2017, it was reported by the CBS talk show The Talk that Clooney was pregnant, and that she and her husband were expecting twins. Friend Matt Damon confirmed the pregnancy to Entertainment Tonight. In June 2017, she gave birth to daughter Ella and son Alexander.
whose father, Ramzi, belongs to a prominent Druze family.
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