An international human rights lawyer and wife of Hollywood star George Clooney has joined a legal team representing the group known as the "hooded men".
Amal Clooney is part of a team representing 10 men taking the UK to the European Court of Human Rights.
The men were tortured when they were held without trial in Northern Ireland in August 1971.
Their claim is being backed by the Irish government.
Fourteen men were hooded, forced to listen to constant loud static noise, deprived of sleep, food and water, forced to stand in a stress position and beaten if they fell.
Some were also thrown from helicopters while their heads were covered with hoods.
They were told they were hundreds of feet in the air and believed they were going to be thrown to their deaths, while in reality they were only about 20 ft from the ground.
In 1976, the European Commission on Human Rights upheld a complaint by the Irish government that the men had been tortured, a ruling that was later overturned on appeal.
The European Court ruled that the men had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, but not torture.
In a surprise move in December, the Irish government backed the men's campaign to have the case reopened. It said their treatment should be recognised as torture.
Mrs Clooney is now part of a team of lawyers from London, Dublin and Belfast who are taking the case.
Mrs Clooney has a formidable list of high profile clients and cases, including Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who is fighting against extradition from the UK to Sweden.
She also represents the Greek government in a campaign to secure the return of the world famous Elgin Marbles. Removed from Athens in 1811 by Lord Elgin, they are one of the most popular displays at the British Museum.
Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three-person UN commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip, so tonight her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award."
Amal Clooney is expected to visit Belfast in the near future to meet the solicitors and the men whom she will help to represent in court in Strasbourg.
Hooded Men Press Release
We, The Hooded Men, and KRW LAW LLP successfully challenged the Irish government in its initial failure to refer the case of The Hooded Men back to the European Court of Human Rights to be examined again and for this time for the Court to declare that the treatment of The Hooded Men amounted to torture.
The Irish government decided not to fight the challenge and has duly made an Application to the ECtHR so that The Hooded Men case of Ireland v UK can be re-opened. This is significant in both legal and political terms as it send a clear message to the UK government from the Irish government that human rights violations in the past have to be accounted for in the present.
It also sends a message to the USA – specifically at Langley and the Pentagon – that the techniques they considered only inhuman and degrading now constitute torture.
In addition to this ECtHR Application, we are also issuing proceedings against the UK government to establish an independent investigation into the torture of The Hooded Men there having been no investigation to date. This action is being taken against the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the PSNI: the demand is for a statutory investigation into the use of torture by British security forces, including the RUC, during the period of internment and that this investigation must comply with Article 3 of the ECHR in that it must satisfy the jurisprudence of human rights compliant investigation. We argue that the PSNI is not able to conduct such an investigation and that the UK government has an on-going due to discharge its obligations toward The Hooded Men separate to the proceedings before the ECtHR. The fight to expose the wrongs committed against us, continues until truth and justice will out.
Jim McIlmurray, Case Coordinator for The Hooded Men, said:
There is a ‘pressing need’ for those in public office to be held accountable for what these men went through. The evidence that the British government deliberately withheld vital information from the courts is compelling. We have full confidence in our legal team and look forward to our day in court. Justice is not something to be awarded to those who are thought deserving and denied to those who are thought undeserving.
A significant amount of time has been spent in consultation with our solicitor, and we are now confident that we have secured a formidable legal team which will represent our interests, and succeed, in overturning the original decision, and finally revealing the truth.
In this we are fortunate enough to have instructed leading lawyers from Belfast, Dublin and London. As the consultation with our solicitor is ongoing, we do not seek to make any further comment at this stage.
Darragh Mackin, of KRW LAW LLP said:
At this stage, the European Court has yet to make its determination on Ireland’s Application. Until such times as the case is communicated to the Respondent Government, the UK, we do not feel it appropriate to make any further comment.