The Clooney Foundation for Justice, founded by George Clooney and his wife Amal, is speaking out about the upcoming libel trial of Russian dissident Aleksey Navalny. The opposition leader and vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin was sentenced this week to more than two years in prison after being convicted of violating his parole in a separate case.
His trial on charges of libeling a World War II veteran is set to begin Friday. It was postponed on January 20 because the anti-corruption crusader was in virus quarantine after returning to Russia from Germany days earlier. He was jailed immediately upon arrival.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes in Russia, charged Navalny with “discrediting the honour and dignity” of the veteran after describing him and others who appeared in a pro-Kremlin video as “the shame of the country” and “traitors” in a June tweet.
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“Our TrialWatch team will be monitoring all further proceedings against [Navalny] and we will report on their compatibility with international law, including the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of expression,” the foundation said in a statement (read it in full below).
Navalny has broad public support in Russia, as evidenced by massive street protests over his sentencing, in which hundreds have been arrested. Russian authorities also have put several of the dissident’s allies under house arrest.
The Kremlin critic nearly died last year after what Western authorities alleged was his poisoning with a Cold War-era Soviet nerve gas. He h as spent nearly five months recovering in Germany before returning to Russia.
Here is the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s full statement:
The Clooney Foundation for Justice will be monitoring the upcoming trials of Aleksey Navalny. Mr. Navalny is currently imprisoned on the basis of a conviction that the European Court of Human Rights determined was “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable” and for which Russia was required to pay Mr. Navalny compensation.
Given this concerning context, our TrialWatch team will be monitoring all further proceedings against him and we will report on their compatibility with international law, including the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of expression.
We also note that Navalny was poisoned and nearly died, with evidence pointing directly to the Putin regime. This crime must be independently investigated and those involved must be brought to justice as soon as possible.
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