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American oil trader sues UAE and its president over public relations 'smear campaign'

Hazim Nada is seeking $2.77bn in damages, accusing the UAE of damaging his reputation and falsely linking him to terrorism
UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan attending a meeting with Russia's president in Abu Dhabi, on 6 December 2023 (Sergei Savostyanov/AFP)

A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Washington DC against the United Arab Emirates and its president, Mohammed bin Zayed, accusing the country of funding a "dark public relations" campaign that falsely linked an American oil trader to terrorist financing.

Hazim Nada, founder of Lord Energy, a Swiss-based oil trading company, filed the lawsuit, alleging that beginning in 2017, the UAE paid Swiss private intelligence firm Alp Services to "seriously damage" his reputation and business in a sweeping smear campaign.

The alleged campaign was first reported by The New Yorker, in a sprawling article that traced the case from Europe to the US. Nada, the son of the prominent banker and Muslim Brotherhood member Youssef Nada, had no relation to politics or financial links to the group but soon found his bank accounts closed.

He was forced to constantly prove to bankers that his company had no connection to his father, but the accusations against him did not end. The company was soon unable to finance its shipments and was forced to lay off employees.

Many banks also stopped financing Lord Energy, resulting in it going bankrupt in 2019. In his lawsuit, Nada is seeking $2.77bn worth of damages over the campaign, his lawyers said, according to AFP.

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"The United Arab Emirates and some of its top officials managed, directed, and bankrolled a years-long 'dark' public relations campaign through the Swiss private investigative firm, Alp Services," the lawsuit said.

Middle East Eye contacted the Emirati embassy in Washington and Alp Services for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Abu Dhabi Secrets: The people affected by the widespread 'smear campaign'
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Following the report published by The New Yorker last year, another report from the French investigative news site, Mediapart, laid out a similar campaign to smear other individuals with similar links to terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Dubbed “the Abu Dhabi Secrets”, the investigations claim that Alp Services was hired by the UAE government to spy on citizens of 18 different European countries.

The investigation says that between 2017 and 2020, Alp Services gave the details of over 1,000 people and 400 companies and organisations to the Emirati intelligence services, who claimed that they all were members of - or sympathisers with - the Muslim Brotherhood. 

A political Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood briefly gained power in Egypt following the rise of the Arab Spring protests in 2011 and the election of Mohamed Morsi in 2012.

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