Saturday, August 3, 2013


Why does George Clooney have a spy satellite on Sudan?

George Clooney is funding a spy satellite aimed at Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The actor has a long history of activism in Sudan.

Clooney aims spy satellite at Sudan: Actor George Clooney testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing regarding Sudan in Washington in March, 2012.
Actor George Clooney is spending his coffee commercial earnings on a satellite to spy on Sudan.
George Clooney has played a spy on film, and now he's doing some sleuthing of his own in real life, all for a cause that's long been dear to his heart.

The actor divulged to The Guardian that he uses most of his earnings from Nespresso commercials to fund a satellite he helped place over Sudan in 2010 to monitor the actions of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The International Criminal Court has charged him with war crimes in connection with armed conflicts between the independent state of South Sudan and Sudan that have killed as many as 400,000 people in the western region of Darfur alone.

"I want the war criminal to have the same amount of attention that I get," Clooney said of Bashir's complaints that the actor was spying on him, The Guardian reported. "I think that's fair."

Related: More on George Clooney at Wonderwall

Clooney, along with groups that work to end violence in Sudan, runs the Satellite Sentinel Project, a program that aims satellites on Sudan to monitor possible threats to civilians and identify acts of violence, like bombings and razed villages. With detailed information from on the ground and in the sky, the SSP writes detailed reports that it gives out to policymakers, the press and activists.

Clooney has been involved in activism in Sudan since heavy fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003, displacing millions. His Not on Our Watch Group, which actors Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle also belong to, aims to draw global attention to humanitarian catastrophes. The organization is also heavily involved in Burma and Zimbabwe.

Clooney has made numerous trips to Sudan and has appeared in a number of documentaries about the civil war there.

"If I'm going to be surrounded by cameras, I'm going to go to places and be around people who can't get a camera there," he told the BBC in 2010. In 2012, he and his father were arrested outside of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, where they were protesting.

George Clooney aims satellite at Sudan: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is greeted by military soldiers in April, 2012.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

The Oscar winner has helped victims of humanitarian disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami that ravaged Asia in 2004. He has also donated money to marriage equality and LGBT foundations.

Clooney was named a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2010. He's also a United Nations Messenger of Peace and was awarded the Summit Peace Award, along with Cheadle, in 2007.

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