By Jonah Bennett, DCNF
Russia is considering designating CNN, Voice of America and Radio Liberty as foreign agents, now that the U.S. has forced state-run RT to register as a foreign agent.
Russian officials said Friday that they’re thinking of making private and government-run American media entities register as foreign agents, which is exactly what Russia warned it would do if American authorities moved to censure RT, The New York Times reports. Such a move could prevent CNN and other U.S. state-owned media entities from operating or distributing content in certain areas.
RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan signaled her intent to comply Thursday, saying that the state-run company would for now give in to U.S. demands to avoid bank account freezes and disclosures of personal employee information. Simonyan believes the application of the Foreign Agents Registration Act to RT America is discriminatory. The deadline to register is Monday.
“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,” Simonyan said. “It deprives us of fair competition with other international channels, which are not registered as foreign agents.”
Simonyan said that while 400 entities are registered under FARA, not a single one of those entities is a media outlet.
The crackdown on RT has come in response to continued investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The U.S. intelligence community believes RT, formerly known as Russia Today, to be little more than a propaganda outlet. A January report from the Director of National Intelligence stated that RT “contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pledged Thursday that Russia will hit back against any actions designed to attack RT.
“If someone starts to fight dirty, perverting the law by using it as a tool to eradicate the TV station, every move aimed against the Russian media outlet would be repaid in kind,” Zakharova said.
It’s unclear whether Russia will follow through on its threat or not.
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