Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Russian news agency RT now under scrutiny as foreign agent.

Photo illustration: Yahoo News; 
photos: AP, Getty images
WASHINGTON — RT, the Russian government television network, disclosed Monday that one of its U.S. affiliates has been notified by the Justice Department that it must register as a foreign agent that is disseminating propaganda in the United States.

The statement issued by RT’s editor in chief Margarita Simonyan in Moscow is the strongest sign yet the Justice Department may be moving to crack down on the operations of RT and another Russian news agency, Sputnik, by forcing them to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act — a World War II-era law that requires foreign principals that are seeking to influence U.S. public opinion to disclose their full activities and sources of funding.

“The company that supplies all services for RT America channel, including TV production and operations, in the U.S., has received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming that the company is obligated to register under FARA due to the work it does for RT,” Simonyan said in a statement that was posted on RT’s website.

RT did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News. A Justice Department spokesman declined comment. But the disclosure by RT came the same day Yahoo News reported that the FBI has obtained thousands of internal Sputnik emails as part of an investigation into whether that news agency, which is technically separate from RT, must also register under FARA.

Both RT and Sputnik are operated by companies that are funded by the Russian government and were identified in a U.S. intelligence report in January as being arms of Russia’s “state-run propaganda machine” that served as a “platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.” They were both depicted as playing roles in Russia’s “influence campaign” aimed at boosting Donald Trump and denigrating Hillary Clinton during last year’s presidential campaign. As an example, the report said, Sputnik and RT “consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional U.S. media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.”

Full story at Yahoo News.

By Michael Isikoff and Hunter Walker.

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