Of all her clients, Amal Clooney has represented one nearly as famous as she is: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
But apparently no more.
When asked by The Lit Daily about Assange’s lawyers and Clooney’s current role, the WikiLeaks press office responded by identifying nine members of his legal team.
Notably absent: Clooney.
The organization did not respond to follow up emails, nor did Clooney’s law firm, Doughty Street Chambers in London, or Assange’s lead attorney, Melinda Taylor in The Hague.
If indeed Assange and Clooney have officially parted ways, it would make sense. Clooney and her superstar husband George have raised millions for Hillary Clinton, including hosting a fundraiser at their home in April where tickets cost $33,400 per person.
In an email to Clinton supporters, the actor called the Democratic nominee a “voice of tolerance and experience” and “the only grown-up in the room,” according to People magazine.
Meanwhile, Assange has emerged as a chief Clinton nemesis and (as Bloomberg put it) “Trump’s best friend.”
WikiLeaks has released a series of hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and seven key figures in the Democratic National Committee, all damaging to her campaign. The U.S. government claims Russia is responsible for the hacks.
On Tuesday, Ecuador cut Assange’s access to the internet at its embassy in London, where he has been holed up for four years to avoid extradition to Sweden in connection with rape allegations.
“The government of Ecuador respects the principles of nonintervention in the affairs of other nations, does not meddle in electoral campaigns nor support any candidate in particular,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Amal Clooney née Alamuddin began representing Assange before she ever met George Clooney. She served as his counsel in Sweden v. Assange in the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, where he fought his return to Sweden. After Assange lost his appeal, he took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, where she continued to visit him.
Indeed, Assange was once Amal’s claim to fame. Consider this Daily Mail headline in 2014 when Amal and George began to date: “EXCLUSIVE – WikiLeaks’ lawyer goes to the White House: The night George Clooney took Julian Assange’s stunning British lawyer to meet Obama at private screening of Monuments Men.”
After the pair got engaged, Assange told the Evening Standard that “Amal is a friend and a lawyer with a global perspective who is not afraid to deal with corruption of power or to tackle politicized cases.”
But apparently she’s no longer one of his lawyers. According to WikiLeaks, his team currently consists of Taylor, an Australian lawyer at the International Criminal Court in The Hague; fellow Australian barristers Julian Burnside, Greg Barns and Jennifer Robinson (who is based in London); Carey Shenkman, who works for Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York; Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon; Christophe Marchand in Belgium; and Per E Samuelson and Thomas Olsson in Sweden.
Still, if Clooney is on the outs, politics may have nothing to do with it. Clooney’s colleague John Jones was the Doughty Street barrister who actually filed Assange’s latest legal gambit—a petition for unlawful detention before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. (It was co-submitted by Taylor and Garzon.) In February 2016, the panel ruled in Assange’s favor.
Jones, who was 48, died in an apparent suicide in April when he was struck by a train. If Jones was the lead partner, perhaps Assange opted not to continue working with Clooney without him.
Or perhaps Clooney was done. To be sure, she’s proven that she isn’t afraid to represent difficult clients—among them, Abdullah Al Senussi, the former Libyan intelligence chief nicknamed “the butcher.”
But Assange might have posed a conflict she chose not to disregard. If so, who can blame her? With his world-wide team of lawyers, it’s not like the WikiLeaks founder needs her.
Besides, one thing is for sure: you know she’s got better things to do.
- To read more commentary from Jenna Greene, visit Litigation Daily