GOV/MIL Al Jazeera channel forced to register as foreign agent in US

Dennis Olson

Chief Curmudgeon
Al Jazeera channel forced to register as foreign agent in US

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Liz Cheney had pressed for action against the Qatari channel

The US Justice Department ordered online news channel Al Jazeera Plus to register as a foreign agent under the country’s lobbying laws.

The Justice Department acted after a finding that AJ+ engaged in political activities in the US as defined by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

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 the US Congress had written to the Justice Department to urge a review.

Among those calling for an examination of Al Jazeera’s status were the senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton and Republican member of the House of Representatives, Liz Cheney.

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

They posed a series of questions to the department:

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

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

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

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

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 Plus's sister network Al Jazeera America closed only three years after its launch in August, 2013, as a result of low ratings.

Reports of low morale among staff, lawsuits, gender discrimination and alleged anti-Semitism also tarnished the nascent news channel.

Updated: September 16, 2020 07:26 PM