RT chooses registering as foreign agent over 'criminal case'

Dana Boente, the acting assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement that Washington-based T&R Productions, LLC, "registered today with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as an agent for ANO TV-Novosti, the Russian government entity responsible for the worldwide broadcasts of the RT Network (RT)". "Those who invented it, have buried it", RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan was quoted as saying at the time.

Margarita Simonyan said Monday on RT's Russian-language website that "between a criminal case and the registration we have chosen the latter", adding on a sarcastic note that "we congratulate the American freedom of speech and those who still believe in it on that".

The Department of Justice sent a letter to RT America back in September ordering that it register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) because of their work for their Russian parent company, Simonyan said Thursday.

A Russian broadcaster identified in January by the US intelligence community as a Kremlin propaganda arm registered as an agent of the Russian government on Monday, the US Department of Justice said.

Russia's parliament warned on Friday that some USA 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.

After that report, the Department of Justice insisted that RT America comply with registration requirements under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

Russian Federation could hit back at all foreign media and not just USA -based outlets in retaliation, the Vedomosti business daily reported Monday, with CNN, VOA, Radio Liberty and Deutsche Welle expected to face restrictions.

On November 10, Russia's State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin gave instructions to appropriate committees of the State Duma lower house of parliament to draft a symmetric legislative response to the actions of the U.S. Department of Justice. US intelligence agencies also concluded that Russian Federation sought to interfere with the USA election to help Donald Trump get elected.

But RT's editor in chief, Margarita Simonyan, said on Monday that it would comply with the demand in order to avoid further legal action by the USA government.

The US clampdown comes amidst suspicions from its intelligence services that RT played a role in seeking to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election, allegations which it denies.

Foreign governments and political parties are required to register with the DOJ under FARA, in addition to the lobbyists and public relations firms they hire. FARA was first passed in 1938 in the lead up to World War Two in an effort to combat German propaganda efforts.

Vanessa Coleman