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Russia’s RT cut from US Congress press corps as ‘foreign agent’

November 29, 2017

Russian television group RT lost its credentials to cover the US Congress on Wednesday after the US government forced it to register as a “foreign agent.”

In the latest fallout from Russia’s alleged interference in last year’s presidential election, the committee of journalists which regulates who is accredited to cover the US legislature told RT that they had voted unanimously to withdraw its Congressional press pass.

“The action was taken in response to the registration of RT Network’s operating company, T&R Productions LLC, as a foreign agent,” Craig Caplan, chair of the Executive Committee of the Congressional Radio & Television Correspondents’ Galleries, told RT in a letter.

Under the committee’s rules, news credentials “may not be issued to any applicant employed ‘by any foreign government or representative thereof’,” he said.

In early September the Justice Department ordered RT to register its American operations as a “foreign agent,” a designation mostly used for lobbyists for foreign governments.

That came after US intelligence agencies said that RT was “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” and took part in Moscow’s hacking and disinformation effort to swing the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor.

After RT registered on November 13, the Russian legislature passed its own law to force foreign media to register there as “foreign agents.”

President Vladimir Putin signed the new law on Saturday, and the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have been warned that they may need to register under the new classification.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.