Robert Amsterdam acts for Chee Soon Juan

October 28, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Canadian lawyer Mr Robert Amsterdam is acting for Dr Chee Soon Juan on the international stage and assisting him in the on-going trials. As many of Dr Chee’s prosecutions involve international customary law, Mr Amsterdam’s experience in this area of the law is especially helpful. He is also the legal counsel for the SDP.

Mr Amsterdam runs his law firm Amsterdam & Peroff which has offices Toronto and London. His practice engages in a rare combination of cases between corporate law and human rights. The matters that he takes on range from Sovereign Wealth Funds to human rights in the business world.

Law journal Canadian Lawyer describes Mr Amsterdam as “one of the few lawyers in the world good at taking on the state when the state starts acting like a criminal.”

Perhaps his most significant client is billionaire oil tycoon Mr Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Mr Khodokorvsky, CEO of Russian oil giant Yukos, was arrested in 2003 and has been imprisoned in a Siberian jail. Yukos has since been broken up and sold to Putin-friendly businesses.

Mr Khodorkovsky had resisted then president Vladimir Putin’s autocratic-style of politics and had contributed financially to Russian political parties and media companies. Mr Khodorkovsky was convicted of fraud and tax evasion, and sentenced to eight years in prison by a judiciary whose independence has been questioned.

Mr Amsterdam is Mr Khodorkovsky’s legal counsel and has been battling to get his client free. The lawyer writes his blog robertamsterdam.com to campaign for the Russian prisoner. Watch Amsterdam in action here and here.

He recently agreed to represent Dr Chee and is presently establishing an international team to campaign against the charges brought against the SDP secretary-general and other pro-democracy activists in Singapore.

The two met during the International Bar Association conference in Singapore in 2007. Mr Amsterdam visited Dr Chee as he stationed himself outside the Istana to protest against the Singapore Government’s investments in Burma.