Clooney Foundation to monitor trial of Kashmiri scribe

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 3/1/2021 12:46:09 PM

JAMMU, Feb 27: The Clooney Foundation for Justice – headed by actor George Clooney and his lawyer wife Aman Clooney, will monitor the trial of award-winning Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan who has been detained in Kashmir for over two and a half years and faces the death penalty if convicted.
The TrialWatch initiative of the Foundation which monitors criminalproceedingsaround the world, grades their fairness, and advocates for individuals who are unfairly detained, will now be monitoring Sultan’s trial.
Human rights lawyer and the Foundation’s co-founder Amal Clooney had represented Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw SoeOo, in 2018. They had been detained by the Myanmar government since December 2017 for reporting on the Rohingya genocide. They were released after spending 500 days behind bars in May 2019.
Clooney Foundation, in a statement, noted that the press and human rights organizations believe the charges actually stem from Sultan’s coverage of a Kashmiri militant killed by Indian security forces, whose killing set off anti-government demonstrations in Kashmir in July 2016.
“The indictment cites Sultan’s social media posts and possession of letter pads of the Hizbul Mujahideen in his home as evidence of his involvement with the banned group,” the statement added.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), after CPJ called for Sultan’s release in The Washington Post, the Jammu and Kashmir police responded on Twitter that Sultan was not being held for his work but for “hatching a criminal conspiracy, harbouring and supporting terrorists who martyred a police constable.”
The Clooney Foundation for Justice, which advocates for justice through accountability for human rights abuses around the world, runs the “TrialWatch” to monitor criminal proceedings around the world, “grades their fairness, and advocates for individuals who are unfairly detained.”
Sultan has been imprisoned since his arrest in August 2018. He is now charged with supporting the terrorist group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and conspiring to kill a police officer.
Sultan’s trial is restarting after multiple delays by the state, including absences by key prosecution witnesses and the 2019 revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Detained for over two and a half years in Kashmir Central Jail, where COVID-19 cases have been mounting since the summer of 2020, Sultan’s next bail hearing is scheduled for February 26, 2021.



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