RT Says US Justice Department Sets Deadline To Register As Foreign Agent

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

In October, the Russian Justice Ministry warned RFE/RL that its operations in Russia could be restricted under Russia's own "foreign agents" law.

The Justice Department set a deadline of November 13 for RT to register as a foreign agency based on accusations that the Russian government-funded cable news network and website was a Kremlin propaganda outlet.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has chose to apply the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to Russia Today (RT) America, a branch of the Russian news agency stationed in Washington D.C., demanding that the agency register as a foreign agent or face reprimands.

While the agency has agreed to comply with the government's request, they have vowed to fight this registration in court. RT and Sputnik Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan described the ultimatum as a "cannibalistic deadline".

"But we are forced to submit", Simonyan said in an interview.

RT's chief editor, Margarita Simonyan, said the outlet would register by the deadline but planned to challenge the decision in a US court. The law was passed in 1938 specifically to counter fears of Nazi propaganda and misinformation being spread in the United States.

"It deprives us of fair competition with other global channels, which are not registered as foreign agents", she added.

This is not the first time Russian Federation has criticized the US for taking actions against its media outlets. Currently, some 400 entities and individuals are registered on the list as "foreign agents", and pointedly, does not include any of the dozens of other foreign media outlets operating in the US.

"We are journalists, and mostly Americans work here", the statement continued. Yahoo News has separately reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed a former Sputnik correspondent about his work at the website.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said on Thursday Russia was considering hitting the US for the deadline. "We believe that any assumption that we are engaged in anything other than journalism is an absolute lie and fabrication".

"As of today, there is understanding that a practical phase of these response measures (in respect of USA media in Russian Federation over demands the RT broadcaster register itself as a foreign agent in the US) will begin next week".

The Moscow-based broadcaster has become a focus of the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Amid continued controversy about Russia's role in trying to influence last year's US presidential election, Twitter last month banned advertising by RT and by the state-funded Sputnik news agency.

"Social networks are also mass media". We just have them register.

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