Al Jazeera forced to register under foreign agents act after Qatar political control finding

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Liz Cheney had pressed for action against the Doha channel

Sep 16, 2020

September 16, 2020


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The US Justice Department has ordered Qatari television channel Al Jazeera to register its American presence as a foreign agent under the country's lobbying laws.

The Justice Department acted after a finding that its video channel AJ+ engaged in political activities as defined by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

It said the channel acted at the direction and control of the Qatari leadership.

"Despite assertions of editorial independence and freedom of expression Al Jazeera Media Network and its affiliates are controlled and funded by the government of Qatar," it said.

Leading members of Congress had written to the Justice Department to urge a review. Among those calling for an examination of Al Jazeera's status were senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Republican member of the House of Representatives, Liz Cheney.

In a joint letter in August the Congress members asked a series of questions and point out the TRT, the Turkish broadcaster, had been issued with a foreign agent notice.

They posed a series of questions to the department:

  1. Why has the DOJ not issued a determination for Al Jazeera to register under FARA?

  2. What analysis, information, or assessment has the DOJ undertaken thus far regarding a potential determination of Al Jazeera as a foreign agent?

  3. If the DOJ has not considered any kind of determination relating to Al Jazeera, why has it not done so?

  4. Regarding Section 722 registration, are there actions the DOJ can take to compel Al Jazeera to comply with the FCC registration requirement?

  5. Is there any additional legislation from Congress that the DOJ believes is needed to

    ensure that it can enforce the law as it relates to Al Jazeera, and similarly situated media companies?"

In the US Al Jazeera's sister network Al Jazeera America closed just three years after its launch in August 2013 as a result of low ratings. Reports of low morale among staff, law suits, gender discrimination and alleged antisemitism also tarnished the nascent news channel.

Updated: September 16, 2020 01:50 PM

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