Variety reports that George Clooney has purchased film rights to Jonathan Mahler’s legal thriller The Challenge, about the long campaign waged by U.S. Navy lawyer Charles Swift and Georgetown law professor Neal Katyal to ensure a fair trial for Salim Hamdan, the bodyguard and driver of Osama bin Laden. The book ends with a landmark 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that military tribunals like those ordered for Hamdan and other Guantanamo Bay detainees, violate the Geneva Convention and the Uniform Code for Military Justice.
The trade reports that The Challenge will be a potential directing, writing and starring vehicle for the actor.
Clooney’s persistence is believed to have played a key role in persuading Mahler to sign with Smoke House.
Salim Hamdan was sentenced on August 7, 2008, by a panel of military officers at Guantanamo Bay, to a sentence of 66 months, including time served. The Yemeni-born prisoner was found guilty of material support for terrorism but cleared of the more serious charges of conspiracy to commit murder, seen as a victory by some legal analysts. The author is planning to update the paperback edition to include Hamdan’s trial verdict, but it is unclear where Clooney’s film adaptation will end.