Amal Clooney On The Maldives Crisis And The Responsibility Of Celebrity

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / Jan 15 2016 / 13:19 PM

The human rights lawyer opens up in her first American TV interview

Amal Clooney On The Maldives Crisis And The Responsibility Of Celebrity

Over the weekend on America's daily talk show Today, Amal Clooney — revered human rights lawyer and stylish spouse to George Clooney—appeared in her first US television interview. She sat down with NBC's Cynthia McFadden to discuss her latest project, which is rooted in an unexpectedly dangerous location: The Maldives.

Clooney is currently representing Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of The Maldives, who now sits in prison after being fraudulently convicted of terrorism in March. A few months ago, just days before she visited the islands for business, one of her colleagues was stabbed in the head — possibly as a threat to Clooney. "It wasn't the most comfortable position to be in, but you know, I was determined to go," she says of the situation. Clooney calls Nasheed, a human rights and environmental activist, one of her heroes. She doesn't want to give up the opportunity to work for him—no matter how hazardous.

According to Clooney, the Maldives, a desired vacation destination located south of India and Sri Lanka, has one of the highest ISIS recruitments per capita in the world. "If you look at the State Department reports and the U.N. reports, the figures are at least 200 fighters who have gone to Iraq and Syria from the Maldives," she told McFadden. "I don't think people realise that there's a flogging taking place a kilometer away when they're sunbathing at their resort."

"I'm engaging with the media on issues that I think are important"

Clooney says she isn't opposed to using her rising celebrity status to shed light on her work, as long as it's done with the right intent. She says there's "a certain responsibility" that comes with being in the limelight. "I think I'm exercising it in appropriate manner by continuing to do this kind of work, and engaging with the media on issues that I think are important," she said.

Her work clearly isn't easy, but she's up for the challenge. When asked if she was going to give up, she responded with a smile: "No. It's not an option."