The Doha-based Al Jazeera Media Network has filed a $150 million compensation claim against Egypt, saying its investments in the country have been damaged over the past several months.
A formal “notification of dispute” was lodged with the interim government in Cairo yesterday, based on a 1999 investment treatment treaty between Egypt and Qatar.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Al Jazeera’s lawyer Cameron Doley, a senior partner at London-based Carter-Ruck, said:
“There has been a prolonged and sustained attack on Al Jazeera in Egypt. A media entity is a commercial entity like any other. If your business is wiped out in a given country it doesn’t matter if you are Al Jazeera, the FT or a manufacturer of car parts – you suffer the loss of your investment.”
The move to sue comes as four of Al Jazeera’s journalists remain in detention in Egypt, on charges of defaming Egypt and affiliating with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Former President Mohamed Morsi was a member of the organization, but was ousted in a military-backed coup last July. Because he was supported by Qatar, some have said the network’s channels have been biased in reporting on the conflict in Egypt.
Following Morsi’s overthrow, Al Jazeera has had a hostile reception in Egypt. In a statement, the network said the new interim government has:
- Ransacked and closed its offices;
- Confiscated its equipment;
- Jammed transmissions; and
- Revoked its broadcast license.
The damage has cost Al Jazeera much of the $90 million it has invested in operations in Egypt since it began broadcasting there in 2001, the network said, including the cost of infrastructure, staffing, broadcasting equipment and regulatory fees paid to the Egyptian state.
According to Reuters, the $150 million claim would also cover anticipated future losses from the shutdown of the network’s Egypt operations.
If the two countries do not reach an agreement in six months, the legal case is expected to go before a panel at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, DC.
It could be years before the claim is sorted out, but Doley said the ICSID was only of the only entities “with teeth” that Al Jazeera could turn to in seeking compensation for commercial losses in Egypt, FT reports.