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.
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.
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 "Red Shirts," formal name the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD).
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".
On April 6, 2014 in connection with the on-going 2013–14 Thai political crisis, Amsterdam delivered a speech to a massive Red Shirt rally in Bangkok. Former Democrat Party member and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban issued an aggressive attack published in the media, to which Amsterdam responded by releasing a statement saying Suthep is leading a Thai Taliban.
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.
- John, Margaret (8 June 2012). "Amnesty deplores deportation of lawyer Robert Amsterdam from Singapore". Zambian Watchdog. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Bob Amsterdam joins Kim Dotcom, Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden". Amsterdam & Partners. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Robert Amsterdam". Amsterdam & Partners. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
According to the former British Ambassador to Russia, Andrew Wood, “The word that best describes Bob is courage, both moral and actual. He raises questions that are not always welcome, and that is often the proper business of a lawyer.”
- "Bob Amsterdam Archives - Robert Amsterdam Zambia". Robertamsterdam.com. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "320 F3d 1205 Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Bv v. Consorcio Barr Sa L - OpenJurist". Openjurist.org. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Marcela Sanchez - Well-Heeled Crooks Feel the Heat in Miami". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Robert Amsterdam acts for Chee Soon Juan". Singapore Democrats. 28 October 2008. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Robert Amsterdam to Represent Nigerian Politician Nasir El-Rufai". Robertamsterdam.com. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Russia: RFE/RL Speaks With Expelled Khodorkovskii Lawyer". Rfer1.org. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Khodorkovsky’s Attorney Speaks Out". Cato Institute. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Thaksin's lawyer documents army abuse of Red Shirts, ABC Australia". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Thaksin's new legal muscle, Bangkok Post, May 25 2010". Bangkokpost.com. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- Marshall, Andrew (22 July 2010). "Thaksin strikes back". Reuters. Archived from the original on 24 December 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- Robert Amsterdam (April 7, 2014). "Response Statement: Suthep Leading a Thai Taliban". Robert Amsterdam Thailand. Robert Amsterdam. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
'He is a bloody farang, why does he interfere in Thai politics?,' Suthep said, repeatedly referring to Mr. Amsterdam as a 'bastard' for suggesting that individual members of anti-democracy network should face international sanctions.
- "Who’s Afraid Of Kim Dotcom? – OpEd ", albanytribune.com, 29/01/2013