Al Jazeera Sues Egypt for Damaging Business

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The military came to power in Egypt last year following a popular uprising against President Mohamed Morsi.

The Qatari media group is demanding $150 million in compensation from Egypt's military rulers, who Al-Jazeera claims have engaged in a "sustained campaign" against the news channel and its journalists.

Pan-Arabic media group Al Jazeera has filed a lawsuit against Egypt seeking $150 million in compensation, claiming Cairo's military leadership has damaged its media business by carrying out a "sustained campaign" against the news network operator and its journalists.

Cameron Doley, a lawyer at London law firm Carter-Ruck who represents Al Jazeera, told Reuters that he has served the Egyptian government with a document detailing the claim and outlining the alleged media crackdown. Al Jazeera said it and its journalists were targeted after the Egyptian army toppled Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July.

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Al Jazeera had been broadly supportive of Morsi, who with his 2012 campaign became the first democratically elected president in Egypt's history. Qatar, the Gulf Arab monarchy that funds Al Jazeera, also backs Morsi's deposed Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political group whose members the new Cairo government has labeled as terrorists. 

Following the popular coup that kicked Morsi out, the military-run government has put three Al Jazeera journalists on trial on charges of aiding members of a terrorist organization. All three deny the allegations. Al Jazeera says it has invested at least $90 million in operations in Egypt since it started broadcasting there in 2001 and has been effectively shut down in the Arab world's largest country.

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"Al Jazeera invested substantial sums in Egypt," Doley told Reuters. "The effect of this recent campaign by the military government is that this investment has been expropriated. Egypt is bound by international law to pay Al Jazeera just and effective compensation."

The $150 million claim includes infrastructure and running costs for Al Jazeera's four channels in Egypt, as well as equipment costs, regulatory fees and staff costs. The claim also covers anticipated future losses arising from the effective shutdown of Al Jazeera's Egypt operations, Doley said.

The Egyptian government, so far, has declined to comment on the suit.