RT America has announced that the US Department of Justice has demanded the broadcaster's registration under FARA until Monday, November 13, with Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan calling the deadline "cannibalistic."
"We believe that this demand is not only against the law, which we plan to prove in court. This demand is discriminatory, it contradicts principles of democracy and freedom of speech, it bars us from equal competition with our foreign broadcasters working in the United States and not registered as foreign agents," Simonyan said, as quoted by RT.
According to the RT editor-in-chief, the Department of Justice left the broadcaster with no choice, "The lawyers say that unless we register as a foreign agent, the head of the company in the United States may be arrested, the company accounts may be arrested, all in all, the company will not be able to continue its work in this situation."
RT would then be forced to register, although it vehemently disagreed with the demand, she added.
According to Simonyan, there was little hope that the situation would become more favorable in the foreseeable future, but the broadcaster would continue to "work and fight it as much as we can."
"We will work in the circumstances we are given, we are definitely not giving up," Simonyan said.
The RT editor-in-chief told Rossiya 1 broadcaster that the broadcaster would have to publish the staff contact and salaries information and other internal data if it registered as a foreign agent. Arranging interviews would also become more difficult as RT would have to report on that as well.
"No journalist can be calm and comfortable working for a media outlet that is officially considered a foreign agent. This is a sort of a stigma, [an outlet] has to add a certain bar to all its broadcasts," Simonyan said.
The US actions have also been commented on by Senator Andrei Klimov, who has stated, "We will probably have to make some changes in legislation that will allow us to create for US media engaged in propaganda in Russia the same working conditions as those created by the US authorities for RT."
Earlier in the day, RT Director General Alexei Nikolov said at a meeting of the Upper House’s commission on information policy that the broadcaster did not consider itself a foreign agent, adding such status could be extremely dangerous for RT employees and all those who interact with the TV channel.
Previously, RT was requested to register under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in September in an unprecedented move not applied to any other foreign media in the country, prompting Moscow to warn Washington of reciprocal measures toward US outlets in Russia.
According to RIA Novosti citing RT America, "if the company does not comply, the company's accounts may be arrested."
The demand comes just hours after Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the US House Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday, that it was "a tough question" whether RT should be allowed to place advertisements, in a move described by Simonyan as one made "in the name of freedom of speech."
Pressure on RT in US
In the course of recent weeks, Twitter decided to block ads from all accounts owned by RT and Sputnik, based on its own investigation into the 2016 US election, prompting Moscow to call the move "another aggressive step" toward Russian media outlets in the US.
While the Sputnik press service has stated the news agency had never used paid promotions on Twitter, RT has revealed how Twitter itself has been pushing it to spend big on its ads during the US election campaign, a proposal eventually turned down by the media outlet.
Most recently, the US Senate held a hearing with the US tech giants, during which the CEOs of Google and Twitter have testified that they found no violations by RT's ads on their platforms.