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Network ousts CEO amid defections

Published 07/05/2015

Al Jazeera America has ousted its chief executive (AP)
Al Jazeera America has ousted its chief executive (AP)

Troubled Al Jazeera America has removed its chief executive following a week of management defections and a lawsuit accusing an employee of anti-Semitism.

The news network is replacing its CEO, Ehab Al Shihabi, who has run Al Jazeera America since it started two years ago, with veteran news executive Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English.

Both networks are offshoots of the Al Jazeera cable news company, run from Qatar.

Mr Al Shihabi sent an email to the staff welcoming Mr Anstey and saying he would remain as chief operating officer.

Al Jazeera's former senior vice president of newsgathering Marcy McGinnis quit this week, telling The New York Times that Mr Al Shihabi managed with a culture of fear.

Al Jazeera America 's head of human resources and its communications chief resigned last week, and former employee Matthew Luke is suing the network, claiming he was sacked when he complained about a former colleague's anti-Semitic and sexist behaviour.

Lawyer Jeffrey Kimmel, representing Mr Luke, said the ousting of Mr Al Shihabi should be seen as an admission that his client was wrongfully dismissed.

Mr Luke's lawsuit claims an ex-colleague denigrated female employees and said that "whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell".

Mr Al Shihabi said on Monday that the anti-Semitic and sexism accusations were absurd and called the network, which is available in half America's television homes but is infrequently watched, "a huge success story".

In a statement, Mostefa Souag, chairman of Al Jazeera America's board of directors, said Mr Anstey had "the unique ability to undertake the strategic changes needed for the success of the channel".

Mr Anstey, who has worked at CBS News, Reuters and The Associated Press, said he was "committed to engaging the team and uplifting our collective ambitions, as a much-needed channel for American audiences".

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