Amal Clooney has railed against President Donald Trump’s controversial “enemy of the people” references to the media, saying the politician gives the “green light” to regimes that oppress and kill journalists.
The human rights lawyer made the comments at Wednesday’s United Nations Correspondents Association Awards, where she was named 2018’s Global Citizen of the Year.
According to USA Today, she told the audience that journalists were “under attack like never before,” in countries like North Korea, Brazil and Turkey. “The U.S. President has given such regimes a green light and labeled the press in this country the ‘enemy of the people’,” she continued, referring to Trump’s repeated anti-media comments.
“And of course two months ago a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, walked into a consulate in Istanbul and was brutally tortured to death.”
The Saudi Arabian journalist, who was living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. in self-imposed exile—was killed soon after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to pick up legal documents on October 2.
The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear and the Saudi line has changed in the weeks since the killing from an initial denial that he died at the consulate, to assertion of a deadly scuffle, to a premeditated murder carried out by rogue operatives.
Khashoggi—who wrote extensively and often critically about members of the Saudi royal family—previously fled his home country over safety fears.
In November, Trump called Saudi Arabia a “great ally,” in spite of the country’s shifting explanations of the journalist’s death. “King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” Trump wrote in a statement. “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event—maybe he did and maybe he didn’t.”
Just days before, reports emerged that the CIA thought Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was to blame for the murder.
Clooney, whose mother is a successful journalist, has represented high-profile reporters such as Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. The reporter was arrested in Egypt and held along with two other Al Jazeera English journalists for more than a year and a half from 2013 to 2015.
This isn’t the first time Clooney has spoken out against Trump. Back in October, she criticized the president’s comments about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, after he mocked the psychology professor’s credibility in her accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, Vanity Fair reported.
“I had one beer. Well, do you think it was—nope, it was one beer,” Trump had said to an audience in Mississippi. “How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know.
“I don’t know. I don’t know…What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs—where was it? I don’t know—but I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.”
Weighing in on Trump’s comments at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women in Philadelphia, Clooney said: “The president of a country should not publicly ridicule a woman who has come forward to allege abuse.”Amal Clooney is pictured at Dolby Theatre on June 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Turner