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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