Washington: Influential US lawmakers has urged the Trump administration to get Al Jazeera listed as a “foreign agent”, saying the state-owned media company of Qatar has “inherently engaged” in political activities and sought to influence public opinion in America.
The US requires all agencies, individuals and organisations controlled or funded by international govts to be registered with the Dept of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which restricts the spread of propaganda inside America.
In a letter to justice dept, 9 Republican Senators sought details on steps taken to determine if the popular TV news network from the Gulf should be registered as a “foreign agent”. In the past, China’s state-run Xinhua and Russian television Russia Today (RT) have been asked to register as an agent of foreign govt by the justice dept.
International media outlets registered in the US as agents of foreign govts include RT, China Daily, NHK Cosmomedia, and KBS Korean Broadcasting System.
“Qatar’s officials have said govt-controlled media is a form of ‘soft power’. As such, one can reasonably infer Al Jazeera is a messaging tool for the Qatari govt and on its behalf has engaged in inherently political activities and sought to influence public opinion in the US,” they wrote. “When the available evidence is taken as a whole, it appears Al Jazeera’s broadcasts, including AJ+, mirror the policies and preferences of the Qatari govt, which, together with the state funding and other indicia of agency, show Al Jazeera and its media subsidiaries act as alter egos of the Qatari govt in ensuring dissemination of the govt’s viewpoints,” they said.