A long-running and complex lawsuit between Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera and the Egyptian state over the banning of one of Al Jazeera’s channels has been expanded to include Nilesat, and the adjacent General Authority for Investment & Free Zones which is the formal name given to the Cairo Media City free zone area which includes Nilesat’s premises.
The lawsuit was started back in 2011 when relations between Egypt and Qatar deteriorated. Egypt has subsequently jailed Al Jazeera journalists who were alleged to have been operating in the country without official permits. The diplomatic relations worsened last September when Al Jazeera’s Egyptian-focussed channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr (AJMM) was taken down by Nilesat.
The original argument from Egypt’s authorities claimed that the channel “has been inciting against the [Egyptian] army and police, publishing false news and operating without licence since the January 25th Revolution.”
Now, Egypt’s own appeal against the original ban is made because the country’s Prime Minister was named in the action. This appeal seeks to leave the ban in place but to remove the Prime Minister from the list of litigants because – according to the lawyer who lodged the appeal: “The prime minister position is not entitled to issue a decision to stop the channel’s broadcast. If Egypt’s appeal is accepted, it will not drop the ruling but it will only remove the prime minister from the case.”
In other words the core lawsuit will continue, and Nilesat is included. Ahmed Wanees, Chairman of Nilesat, told The Cairo Post on April 22nd that the Al-Jazeera Arabic Channel reserves an allocation on Nilesat and “there is no judicial ruling to withdraw it.” But for the channel’s affiliate AJMM, he said he does not recall if it has been broadcasting through Nile Sat in 2011, adding “it did not have a contract with us.”
In order to pull the plug for a channel’s on Nilesat, Wanees added “there should be a judicial ruling, and once there is a one, we [Nilesat] commit to it.”
The lawsuit has been adjourned until June 15th.