London: The pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera served Egypt with a $150 million compensation claim on Monday for what it said was damage to its business inflicted by Cairo`s military rulers, a lawyer acting for the Qatar-based channel said.
He told Reuters that Egypt had waged a "sustained campaign" against the broadcaster and its journalists since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July last year. Cairo, he said, had six months to settle the claim, filed in the context of a bilateral investment treaty, or face a tribunal.
"Al Jazeera invested substantial sums in Egypt," said Cameron Doley, a lawyer at Carter-Ruck, a London law firm. "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."
Qatar, a Gulf Arab state that funds Al Jazeera, backs Mursi`s deposed Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt declared a "terrorist" group after his fall. Qatar`s ties with Egypt have been strained since the army ousted Mursi after mass protests.
Three Al Jazeera journalists are being tried in Egypt on charges of aiding members of a "terrorist organisation", a case that human rights groups say shows the authorities are trampling on freedom of expression.
All three deny the charges and Al Jazeera has said the accusations are absurd. Egyptian officials have said the case is not linked to freedom of expression and that the journalists raised suspicions by operating without proper accreditation.