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US State Dept. Declines Comment on House Bill Targeting Broadcaster RT

© Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov / Go to the mediabankRussia Today channel
Russia Today channel - Sputnik International
The US Department of State declined to comment on the House of Representatives restriction bill, that opposes the activities of foreign broadcasters, a department official told Sputnik on Friday.

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Department of State declined to comment on legislation introduced this week in the House of Representatives that aims to restrict the activities of foreign broadcasters such as Russia’s RT, a department official told Sputnik on Friday.

"The [State] Department does not comment on pending legislation," the official said.

On Wednesday, US Congressmen David Cicilline and Matthew Gaetz introduced the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act that targets foreign media outlets like RT. Cecilline said in a statement the new legislation will provide the Justice Department with increased investigative authority to identify and prosecute entities that seek to unlawfully influence the US political process.

On Friday, Russia’s Federation Council First Deputy Chairman told Sputnik the Council may suggest reciprocal measures for the US press in Russia, if Russian media in the United States face any limitations.

Cecilline claimed RT is a Kremlin propaganda arm "dressed up as a legitimate news outlet" that has been able to avoid FARA registration requirements by structuring its operations to appear as autonomous from the Russian government.

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Under the new legislation, the Justice Department can compel any person that has effectively bypassed the requirements of the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to produce documents during the course of investigations.

FARA requires agents representing the interests of foreign government in a political capacity to disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about their related activities and finances in order to facilitate an evaluation of their statements and activities by the US government.

As present, the authority by the Justice Department to compel the production of such documents can take place only after criminal or civil proceedings have been initiated.

FARA is administered by the Justice Department’s National Security Division Counterespionage Section.

Russian media outlets broadcasting in Europe and the United States have been repeatedly accused by US and other Western officials for allegedly spreading fake news and attempting to influence public life.

The US Intelligence Community has claimed Russia used its media outlets RT and Sputnik to swing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, but have not provided any evidence to back their claims.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials have repeatedly stated that Moscow does not meddle in internal affairs of foreign countries.

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