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DOJ orders Al Jazeera platform to register as foreign agent

September 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A picture taken on December 5, 2019, shows a general view of the newsroom at the headquarters of the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite news channel in the capital Doha. - Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera has travelled a long and bumpy road from the early 2000s when it was best known for airing tapes of former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It now cultivates a loyal youth audience on social media alongside the satellite channels which have won it both acclaim and scorn. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP) (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

The Justice Department ordered an Al Jazeera online news platform based in the US to register as a foreign agent on Monday, declaring that the outlet is "an agent of the Government of Qatar," according to a letter from the Justice Department obtained by CNN.

Washington DC (CNN Business)The Justice Department ordered an Al Jazeera online news platform based in the US to register as a foreign agent on Monday, declaring that the outlet is "an agent of the Government of Qatar," according to a letter from the Justice Department obtained by CNN.

But the effort has been long underway, as the letter said that DOJ has been in touch with AJ+, which is an affiliate based in San Francisco and Washington DC and part of the company backed by Qatar's royal family, about why it may be subject to these constraints in 2018.

The letter said that AJ+ has about 80 employees in the US whose salaries "are paid by funds originating with the Government of Qatar" and whose work is carried out "at the direction and control" of Qatari leadership.

The letter also noted that the company's style guide "reveals AJ+'s intention to influence audience attitudes with its reporting" with policies such as calling the Israeli Defense Forces the Israeli army instead of the IDF and not using the words terrorist or terrorism.

even if it views itself as "balanced" or aims to balance reporting by other journalists," said the letter from the chief of the Justice Department's counterintelligence division, Jay I.

The Department of Justice would not confirm the order when asked by CNN.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, was created decades ago to prevent foreign propaganda from swaying the American public.

Companies or individuals considered to be working on behalf of a foreign government in the US are required to disclose their funding and relationship with a foreign government or actor with the DOJ, which then publishes the information online.

In fact, other American-based companies that work with foreign media outlets, such as Japanese broadcaster NHK and Chinese newspaper The China Daily, are also registered under FARA, and those outlets continue their work.

In 2017, the production company behind the American version of the Russian state-funded network RT filed as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice.

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