US calls on Al Jazeera to register as an agent of Qatari government: Report

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The digital arm of Al Jazeera must register itself as an agent of the Qatari government, in the United States, a report said Tuesday.

AJ+, which says on its website that it is a “unique digital news and storytelling project promoting human rights and equality, holding power to account, and amplifying the voices of the powerless,” works at the direction and control of Qatar’s rulers, according to a US official at the Department of Justice.

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Mother Jones published an article Tuesday quoting the head of the department’s counterintelligence and export control section, Jay Bratt. Bratt said, “Al Jazeera Media Network and its affiliates are controlled and funded by the Government of Qatar,” despite the outlet asserting editorial independence and freedom of expression.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in the US calls on certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities to disclose their relationship with foreign nations. “Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents,” the Department of Justice says.

Asked by Al Arabiya English about the decision against AJ+, a Department of Justice official said: “While I cannot confirm or deny the existence of such a letter, I can say that the FARA Unit’s enforcement activities are based on following the facts where they lead and the applicable law.”

Earlier this week, a group of Republican senators sent a letter to the US Attorney General, William Barr, asking why Al Jazeera had not registered as a foreign agent. “A cursory scan of Al Jazeera’s coverage will produce more than sufficient evidence to refute Al Jazeera’s frequent claims of editorial independence,” the letter reportedly read.

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