MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – RT America, the U.S. arm of the Kremlin-backed TV station RT, has registered with the U.S. Department of Justice as a “foreign agent” in the United States, the outlet’s editor in chief said on Monday.
Accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in last year’s presidential election in favor of then-Republican Party candidate Donald Trump has put pressure on RT America.
In October, Twitter announced it would no longer allow advertisements from RT and another Kremlin-backed news organization, citing intelligence that the television station participated in efforts to influence the election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations of meddling and said it views the actions against RT as an unfriendly act.
The Justice Department has said RT was required to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which means RT will be asked to disclose financial information.
“Between a criminal case and registration, we chose the latter. We congratulate American freedom of speech and all those who still believe in it,” RT Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan said on Twitter.
The U.S. Department of Justice did not return a request comment or to verify the registration.
FARA requires foreign governments, political parties and the lobbyists and public relations firms they hire in the United States to register with the Department of Justice. FARA was first passed in 1938 in the lead up to World War Two in an effort to combat German propaganda efforts.
Foreign government-owned news organizations, including China Daily, the English-language newspaper owned by China’s government, register under FARA. The law applies to companies that are owned or controlled by foreign governments.
The United States and Russia are engaged in a back-and-forth over “foreign agent” registration.
Russia’s parliament warned on Friday that some U.S. and other foreign media could also be declared “foreign agents” in response to the actions against RT, requiring them to regularly declare full details of their funds, financing and staffing.
U.S. government-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), CNN and Germany’s Deutsche Welle could all be affected by the retaliatory measures, a senior Russian lawmaker said earlier on Monday.
Reporting by Jack Stubbs in Moscow and Ginger Gibson in Washington; editing by Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool