DOJ orders Al Jazeera platform to register as foreign agent

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The platform’s designation, AJ +, came on the same day that Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed agreements to normalize relations with Israel at the White House – an event attended by Qatari officials who were in Washington. for a series of bilateral meetings with the US just the day before.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said the outlet received the letter on the eve of the signing of the normalization agreement – known as the Abrahamic Accords – and claimed the determination could have been a prerequisite for the UAE to sign the agreement.

UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba has denied a link exists.

“At no point in our discussions has Al Jazeera or even Qatar been raised,” Al Otaiba said. “They’re really not as important as they think they are. “

Al Jazeera also said this has long been a goal of the UAE and its lobbyists in Washington.“Beating on Al Jazeera was one of the main conditions of the UAE’s blockade against Qatar and the Justice Ministry just gave the UAE what it wanted,” the spokesperson said. “We are looking at determination and considering our options. ”

The letter from the Department of Justice indicated that the Al Jazeera review had been underway for a long time, noting that the department was in contact with AJ + – which is a subsidiary based in San Francisco and Washington, DC, and part of the company supported by the royal family of Qatar. – since 2018 on the reasons why it may be subject to these constraints. Since then, he has collected information, including from Al Jazeera himself.

CNN has contacted the Qatari embassy for comment.

The letter says that AJ + has around 80 employees in the United States whose salaries “are paid by funds from the Qatari government” and whose work is carried out “under the direction and control” of Qatari leadership. AJ + publishes the news on its own website and on various social media platforms.

The letter also noted that the company’s style guide “reveals AJ + ‘s intention to influence public attitudes with its reporting” with policies such as calling the Israel Defense Forces the IDF instead. IDF and not to use the words terrorist or terrorism. Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

“Journalism designed to influence American perceptions of an issue of domestic politics or the activities of a foreign country or its leaders is referred to as’ political activities’ according to the statutory definition … even if it considers itself ‘balanced “Or aims to balance the reporting of other journalists,” read the letter from the head of the Department of Justice’s counterintelligence division, Jay I. Bratt.

The Justice Department did not confirm the order at CNN’s request.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, was created decades ago to prevent foreign propaganda from influencing the American public. Companies or individuals deemed to be working for a foreign government in the United States are required to disclose their funding and relationships with a foreign government or actor with the DOJ, which then publishes the information online.

FARA registration does not prohibit any medium from operating and publishing. In fact, other US-based companies that work with foreign media, such as the Japanese broadcaster NHK and the Chinese newspaper The China Daily, are also registered with FARA, and these media continue to work.

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

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