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DOJ Requires RT to Register as Foreign Agent

DOJ Requires RT to Register as Foreign Agent

Out of 400 registrants, RT is the only news outlet required to register

Trump’s Department of Justice decided last week that some of the work completed by Russian publication RT falls under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 and gave the news outlet a deadline of Monday to register as a foreign agent. RT would be the first news outlet to register under FARA.

FARA was adopted in the midst of World War II to mitigate Nazi tampering in domestic affair.

FARA requires public disclosure from persons supposed as “foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity”:

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents. The FARA Registration Unit of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

RT made the announcement Thursday:

In September, the DOJ sent a letter to the company, claiming it is obligated to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) due to the work it does for RT. The law demands the disclosure of the channel’s confidential data, including the personal data of its staff. The move “will have serious legal consequences” and “compromise the safety of [RT] employees,” the Russian Foreign Ministry previously explained.

RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said on Thursday that the timeframe provided for the company by the DoJ is a “cannibalistic deadline.” She previously said that the channel was being forced into “conditions in which we cannot work” in the US, and called Washington’s demand an attempt to “drive [RT] out of the country.”

While RT America will comply with the DOJ’s demand and register as a “foreign agent,” the company will challenge the decision in court, Simonyan said. Refusing the order could result in the arrest of RT America’s head, as well as the seizure of assets, rendering broadcasts impossible, she added.

“We believe that the demand does not only go against the law, and we will prove it in court – the demand is discriminative, it contradicts both the democracy and freedom of speech principles. It deprives us of fair competition with other international channels, which are not registered as foreign agents,” Simonyan said.

Simonyan had said the decision put freedom of speech in the US under question. RT has been under pressure for showing the American audience “a different point of view,” the editor-in-chief added.

The Department of Justice’s decision is “a dirty political game,” the chair of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Konstantin Kosachev told journalists on Thursday. Saying that particular Russian media has been “selected” by US lawmakers, the senator called the move “an obviously discriminatory measure.” He went on to point out that there are “dozens and even hundreds” of foreign media operating in the US, including TV channels financed by foreign states, but none of those have been targeted.

RT has repeatedly disputed claims that they function as state-run media.

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RT has “Russia” in its name.

Can we get The Washington Post to add Mexico to its name?

4th armored div | November 13, 2017 at 9:02 am

i’m ambivalent about this order.
will DOJ also do the same for the European or other foreign news outlets ?

    None of them are owned or operated by foreign governments.

      jnials in reply to Milhouse. | November 13, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Mostly true. But BBC is owned by the British Government, I’m sure there are others.

      I think more importantly this is something we didn’t even do at the height of the cold war, with TASS.

      I think it is a bad thing, but not enough to care a whole lot. Most people can understand that RT is pushing a line.

        Milhouse in reply to jnials. | November 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        The BBC is completely independent of the UK government. The UK government has absolutely no influence on the BBC.

          Wrong again.

          “BBC Regulation: The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the UK’s broadcasting, telecommunications and postal regulatory body. Under the BBC’s Charter it has responsibility for regulating the BBC. It does this through an Operating Framework and by setting a licence for the BBC that contains the regulatory conditions the BBC is required to meet. Ofcom also assesses performance, ensures fair and effective competition and regulates how the BBC’s commercial activities interact with its public services. In addition, it regulates BBC content and output against its Broadcasting Code.

          “More information about Ofcom and how it regulates the BBC can be found on its website.”

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | November 13, 2017 at 11:09 pm

          1. Ofcom is not the UK government. It’s an independent regulator, responsible directly to Parliament, not to the government.

          2. It regulates the BBC’s domestic broadcasting in exactly the same way that it does all other UK broadcasters, and just as the FCC regulates US broadcasters. Obviously this does not make UK or US broadcasters agents of their respective governments.

          3. Ofcom does not regulate the BBC World Service, which is what we’re discussing, so it’s completely irrelevant to this topic.

          4. The relationship between the BBC and Ofcom is governed by this memorandum of understanding which sets out which areas of the BBC operations are subject to Ofcom regulation, and emphasises that the BBC Charter guarantees its independence.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | November 13, 2017 at 11:12 pm

          To put it in terms even you might understand, to claim that the BBC is an agent of the UK government is exactly as silly as to claim that NPR is an agent of the US government. The BBC hates the current UK government just as much as NPR hates the current US government.

Stupid and useless. Pandering that will gain nothing.

Geoffrey Britain | November 13, 2017 at 9:56 am

Why single out RT for designation as a Foreign Agent? Hell, the entire MSM qualify as Foreign Agents!

In September, the DOJ sent a letter to the company, claiming it is obligated to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) due to the work it does for RT.

This sentence says the DOJ sent a letter to some company that does work for RT; which company might that be? Did they mean they sent a letter to RT due to the work it does for Russia? Perhaps it’s RT America working for RT?

Another nothingburger. All it does is require RT to file a bunch of (probably fake) paperwork, or give up the pretense and operate openly as part of Russia’s diplomatic apparatus. The practical effect will be negligible.

The original 1938 intent seems to have been to inhibit relatively mild propaganda activities; say, distributing “educational” films about the Soviet worker’s paradise to American schools. Or, rather, to prevent such distribution from operating entirely under innocent cover.