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MTN asks US court to dismiss anti-terrorism case

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The MTN Group has asked a US court to dismiss an anti-terrorism case filed against it last year.

The December complaint, made to a District of Columbia court, was filed on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017.

The complaint alleged that MTN and other Western businesses supported the Taliban by making payments to ensure the protection of their infrastructure.

This week MTN's legal counsel filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Its lawyers argued a dismissal was justified for two reasons: because the court lacks jurisdiction over MTN, which does not operate in the US; and because the complaint does not allege any conduct by MTN that would have violated the anti-terrorism act.

"Under US law and procedures, MTN is not permitted at this stage of the lawsuit to challenge or contest the factual allegations made against the company, so the motion to dismiss focuses on the lack of jurisdiction and the legal insufficiency of the claims," MTN said in an emailed statement.

MTN said it has deep sympathy for those who have been injured or lost loved ones as a result of the tragic conflict in Afghanistan, but that the telco was not the extremists that caused the plaintiffs' tragic losses and injuries.

"To the contrary, MTN Afghanistan has been lauded by the World Bank for expanding telecommunications services to the impoverished people of Afghanistan and has itself been a target of violence in the devastating conflict in that war-torn country.

"Put simply, [the] plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendants in the wrong court based on insufficient allegations," MTN said.

South Africa-headquartered MTN operates in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, including war-torn nations like Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.

"MTN remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and, as reflected in the motion to dismiss, intends to defend its position accordingly," it said.

The Staff, Connecting Africa

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