Amal Clooney accused President Trump of giving the ‘green light’ to autocratic regimes who jail and kill journalists after he named the American press the ‘enemy of the people’.
She made the accusation in a blistering speech at the United Nations Correspondents Association Awards in New York Wednesday night, where she said reporters around the world are ‘under attack’ from autocratic regimes including in North Korea, the Philippines, Hungary, Turkey, and Brazil.
She added: ‘The U.S. President has given such regimes a green light and labeled the press in this country the “enemy of the people”.
‘And of course two months ago a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, walked into a consulate in Istanbul and was brutally tortured to death.’
Saudi Arabia has confessed to killing Khashoggi in a pre-meditated attack, but has denied its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved.
She also spoke about the jailing of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were imprisoned for seven years in Myanmar after covering the killings of the Rohingya religious minority.
They were jailed alongside a policeman, who testified that the men were set up by authorities.
Trump leveled sanctions against a small number of Saudi officials believed to be directly involved in Khashoggi’s killing, but refused to take further action against the Arab kingdom, citing a $110billion arms deal as the reason.
But Senators have taken a different view, and voted in the majority to debate the future of America’s backing for Saudi Arabia’s war against Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.
A group of Senators met with CIA Director Gina Haspel, who traveled to Istanbul to help investigate Khashoggi’s killing, on Tuesday and came away convinced that Bin Salman must have known about the murder.
Lindsay Graham, who has often clashed with Trump in the past but warmed to him recently, said afterward: ‘There’s not a smoking gun. There’s a smoking saw,” referring to reports that Saudi agents used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed.
Graham added that ‘you have to be willfully blind’ not to conclude that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the crown prince’s command.
The annual UN Correspondents Awards, which is in its 70th year, said it honors the ‘best media coverage of the United Nations and UN agencies.’
Amal was being honored as 2018’s Global Citizen of the Year. She was appointed to her first UN commission in 2013 and has taken on a number of high profile international cases in her career as a civil rights lawyer.
Actor Adrian Grenier was also set to be honored at the 2018 UNCA Global Advocate of the Year at the event.
Also Wednesday, a justice foundation created by the power couple announced the global initiative TrialWatch.
The purpose of the initiative is to monitor court trials where there is a risk of abuse and to rank countries’ judicial systems.
TrialWatch will work with the Columbia University Law School and the American Bar Association to train an international network of court monitors, including non-lawyers, whose reports will be used by legal experts to grade trials according to international standards.
Amal said of the announcement: ‘Today, courts all over the world are used as tools of oppression.
‘Governments get away too easily with imprisoning opposition figures, silencing critics and persecuting vulnerable groups through the courts. Trial monitoring will shine a light on these abuses.’