Al Gore sues Al Jazeera over sale of Current TV

Al Jazeera agreed to pay $500 million to buy and rebrand Current TV

Former American vice president Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera over the sale of his former network, Current TV, claiming the Qatari-owned broadcaster owes him millions of dollars from the purchase.

Mr Gore and a group of shareholders accuse Al Jazeera of fraud and breach of contract, arguing the network has failed to honour the terms of the contract and is holding $65 million (£39m) in an escrow account.

“Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago,” David Boies, a lawyer for Gore, said in a statement. “We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.”

Al Jazeera, owned by the Qatari royal family, agreed to pay $500 million to buy Current TV, launched by Gore and co-founder Joel Hyatt in 2005, last year. The deal gave Al Jazeera America access to 40 million homes in the US.

The network invested heavily in new content and has hired big names, including former CNN presenter Soledad O'Brien, but ratings have failed to take off among viewers who still associate brand with an alleged anti-American bias.

Dawn Bridges, a spokesperson for Al Jazeera, said the network’s lawyers are reviewing the lawsuit: "We think it relates to a commercial dispute between former shareholders of Current Media and Al Jazeera America. We may have further comment once they've fully reviewed everything."