Robert Amsterdam is a Canadian international lawyer and founding partner with Dean Peroff of the law firm Amsterdam & Peroff, with offices in Toronto, Washington and London.
Early life and education
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Amsterdam was awarded a B.A. from Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) in 1975 and a LL.B. from Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada) in 1978. Amsterdam is currently based in London, United Kingdom, while the firm continues to maintain an office in Toronto.
Amsterdam was admitted to the Canadian Bar in 1980 and he is also admitted as a solicitor in London, United Kingdom.
Some of Amsterdam's most well known cases were related to early work in Africa and Latin America (well before his later Russia-related issues). Amsterdam won a major international litigation on behalf of the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort Group in Venezuela, and he also worked the well known Gutierrez case in Guatemala, which involved representing the victims of one of the country's largest alleged tax fraud and money laundering schemes. Amsterdam would go on to represent famous political prisoners such as Eligio Cedeño in Venezuela, African political leaders such as Nigeria's Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, and leading democracy advocates such as Singapore's Dr. Chee Soon Juan.[third-party source needed]
In 2005, Khodorkovsky was sentenced to eight years in jail. On the night of the verdict, Amsterdam was accosted by plainclothes security agents in the middle of the night at his hotel room, who attempted to arrest him before he could call his colleagues in the media (the full story of Amsterdam's midnight expulsion was a media sensation). In the years since leaving Russia, Amsterdam has delivered speeches at organizations such as the Carnegie Endowment, Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute and the International Commission of Jurists and frequently briefed politicians and NGOs on the Yukos Group-MENATEP and Khodorkovsky cases.
In March 2009, Khodorkovsky appeared in court for a second trial for fraud and tax evasion. Though Amsterdam cannot represent Khodorkovsky in Russia (no foreigner can argue before a Russian court, and the Federation has refused to issue a visa), he still represents Khodorkovsky on the international stage.
Some members of the Yukos clan lately expressed their worries on Amsterdam's "radical line of defense" based on the systematic denunciation of the political aspects of the Khodorkovsky's trial, forgetting at some points to respond formally to the charges he is indicted for.[third-party source needed]
Robert Amsterdam was hired in May 2010 by former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to serve as international lawyer and adviser to the defence counsel of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship.
On May 3, 2010, Robert Amsterdam issued a statement mentioning his intentions to "urge the international community not to tolerate the government's violent crackdown on self-proclaimed peaceful protesters," meaning the pro-Thaksin demonstrators that had taken over the business district of the city and retaliated by setting fire to buildings.
On July 22, Amsterdam published an 80-page "White Paper" detailing what he alleged were human rights and international law violations committed during what he called the "Bangkok massacres". "
He is now part of the legal team representing Kim Dotcom, the Internet entrepreneur he describes as having had his business: "...unlawfully destroyed and assets seized by a crusading U.S. prosecutor. ..." in the Megaupload legal case.
- Who really is Robert Amsterdam, Online, May 10 2009
- Thaksin's lawyer documents army abuse of Red Shirts, ABC Australia
- Thaksin's new legal muscle, Bangkok Post, May 25 2010
- Thaksin Strikes Back, Reuters, July 22 2010
- "Who’s Afraid Of Kim Dotcom? – OpEd ", albanytribune.com, 29/01/2013