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Al-Jazeera files $150m compensation claim against Egypt

The Qatar-based network warns it will take Egypt to international court if no settlement is reached

Ahram Online, Monday 28 Apr 2014
Al Jazeera
The logo of Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite news channel is seen in Doha February 7, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)
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The Qatar-based media network Al-Jazeera filed a complaint against Egypt on Monday to demand $150 million in compensation on the grounds that its investments in the country have been damaged since last July.

In a statement published on the network's official website, it said it had formally lodged a "notification of dispute" with Egypt's interim government based on a 1999 bilateral investment treaty between Egypt and Qatar "which stipulates the mutual promotion and protection of investments."

Al-Jazeera warned that if no settlement was reached between the network and Egyptian authorities within six months, Al-Jazeera would then send the case to international arbitration.

"In the months following the overthrow of the government of president Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian military, Al-Jazeera’s journalists and staff have been subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation," the statement read.

"The interim government’s actions have included the ransacking and closure of Al-Jazeera offices, confiscation of equipment, jamming of transmissions and arbitrary detention of journalists. Its broadcast license has been revoked and its Cairo branch was subjected to compulsory liquidation of assets," the statement said, adding that four of Al-Jazeera's staff remain in custody while six have been tried in absentia.

The statement stressed that in accordance with the bilateral investment treaty signed between Doha and Cairo, "investors from both sides should be afforded fair and equitable treatment by the governments of both countries."

Hence, the network says it considers Egyptian authorities to be in violation of international law as the treaty obliges it to provide Al-Jazeera's investments with full protection and security.

Relations between Egypt and Qatar have soured since the ouster of the Islamist president last July. Egypt's interim authorities have accused Qatar of backing Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which he hails.

Morsi's ouster was followed by security forces shutting down Al-Jazeera’s Cairo offices, accusing the network's Egyptian channel of giving favourable coverage to Morsi's Brotherhood movement.

A number of Al-Jazeera journalists are currently on trial on charges of aiding or joining the outlawed Brotherhood.

On Monday, head of the Journalists' Syndicate Diaa Rashwan sent a request to Egypt's prosecutor-general demanding the release of Al-Jazeera reporter Abdallah El-Shamy in addition to other detained journalists.

El-Shamy, who was arrested while covering the violent dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa Al-Adaweya protest camp that left hundreds dead last August, staged a hunger strike last December.

He is detained along with 512 defendants on charges including arms possession and the murder of security personnel.

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