Russian TV network registers as foreign agent in US

US DOJ uses WWII-era legislation to demand that RT supplier register as a 'foreign agent'

In September, the Justice Department demanded that a company supplying services to RT America on United States soil should register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Many news outlets with ties to foreign governments are required to similarly register, but the pressure on RT has angered Russian officials who have said they will retaliate with unspecified restrictions on USA news outlets.

"Between a criminal case and registration [as a foreign agent], we chose the latter", Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief said on the network's web site.

Moscow believes that RT along with other Russian media outlets are oppressed by the USA government and has vowed repeatedly to retaliate. "The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing FARA and expects compliance with the law by all entities engaged in specified activities on behalf of any foreign principal, regardless of its nationality".

The Justice Department officially announced the registration of T&R Productions - naming RT parent ANO TV-Novosti as the foreign principal - on Monday. But the company declined to provide details, saying only that it understands "the Russian Federation finances ANO TV-Novosti to a substantial extent".

The law applies to companies that are owned or controlled by foreign governments.

In the filing, the production company disclosed that it was paid $350,000 within the past 60 days by ANO TV-Novosti, which it notes is funded by the Russian government "to substantial extent". Media outlets that have registered include Japan's NHK TV news channel, the China Daily newspaper and China's Xinmin Evening News.

USA officials say that Russian law regarding foreign agents differs from FARA, which was passed in 1938 specifically to counter fears of Nazi propaganda and disinformation being spread in the United States. It also disclosed several licensing agreements with the Russian entity for shows such as "News with Ed Schultz", "Redacted Tonight" and "Larry King Now". "Programs produced cover a broad range of news and talk show topics, reflect balance regarding commentary, and are not aimed to primarily benefit any foreign government or political party".

Ajamu Baraka, the vice presidential candidate for the Green Party in the 2016 USA presidential election, slammed the move as "outrageous" and said it should be opposed by all those supporting the principle of freedom of information.

Beyond the official Russian response, the Justice Department's approach to RT America has been criticized by those who worry that it could set off retaliatory actions - and be seen as a high-profile precedent.

The Justice Dept.'s national security division is reviewing T&R's filing for both accuracy and sufficiency.

Related News: