Former CEO of Dubai fest sues for libel

Neil Stephenson claims he was branded 'Arab hater'

LONDON -- The former CEO of the Dubai International Film Festival Neil Stephenson is suing two former senior colleagues for libel amid allegations of calling him a "racist" and an "Arab hater."

The major legal action, launched in the U.K. High Court of Justice, sees Stephenson suing DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma and Managing Director Shivani Pandya.

Stephenson originally conceived the idea of DIFF in the U.K. on December 26, 2001 after reading an article in a British newspaper describing world leaders calling for tolerance to be the legacy of the 9/11 terror attacks on America.

The High Court writ filed late last week by Stephenson claims the two defendants labeled him a racist and then illegally conspired to engineer his exit from DIFF in late 2006.

Stephenson has brought the court action after attempting "to reconcile matters amicably in a private way."

"I am saddened that this dispute could not be amicably resolved, but I will continue to fight for justice and for my rightful credit," Stephenson said in a statement.

Stephenson originally filed last December in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Juma and Pandya "for their deplorable and despicable behavior" but withdrew the case after issues of jurisdiction.

The U.K. suit alleges that the two defendants also conspired to ruin his reputation by branding him a "racist" and an "Arab hater," despite the fact that he had lived in the Arab world for 10 years.

DIFF organizers could not be reached.
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