George Clooney has bought the 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.
Variety says the project will be developed through Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smoke House production company.
As with any Smoke House project, The Challenge remains a potential directing, writing and starring vehicle for Clooney.
Hamdan was sentenced Aug. 7 by a panel of military officers at Guantanamo Bay to a prison term of 66 months, including time already served. The Yemeni-born convict was found guilty of material support for terrorism but cleared of the more serious charges of conspiracy to commit murder, seen by some analysts as a victory for retired naval officer Swift’s efforts.
While it’s unclear where the movie would end, Mahler’s book ends with the landmark 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the military tribunals ordered for Hamdan and other Guantanamo Bay detainees violated the Geneva Convention and the Uniform Code for Military Justice.