AL JAZEERA rejects calls to register as foreign agent in USA
Qatar-based Al Jazeera said it views calls for it to register as a foreign agent "as a direct attempt to curtail media freedom and restrict journalists from carrying out their duties, a right enshrined in the constitution of the United States of America." | Kamran Jebreili,/AP Photo
By JOSH GERSTEIN
03/08/2018 06:04 PM EST
The news network Al Jazeera on Thursday dismissed calls from members of Congress for it to register as a foreign agent under U.S. law.
In a statement, the Qatar-based broadcasting giant said the drive to bring its operations under the regulation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act amounts to an assault on press freedom.
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"It is shocking to hear calls being made by a number of US lawmakers to register Al Jazeera as a foreign agent," the network said in its first public reaction since 18 House members and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sent a letter Tuesday urging the Justice Department to investigate Al Jazeera's compliance with the eight-decade-old law governing lobbying and propaganda efforts in the U.S. by foreign governments and foreign political parties.
"Al Jazeera views such calls as a direct attempt to curtail media freedom and restrict journalists from carrying out their duties, a right enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America. This call comes at a time when attacks on journalists and media organizations around the world are at an all-time high," the network said. "Don't shoot the messenger, journalism is not a crime."
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The letter, spearheaded by GOP Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Lee Zeldin of New York, observed that Al Jazeera was chartered by Qatar and appears to advance the wealthy emirate's foreign policy goals. The lawmakers also accused Al Jazeera of giving "favorable coverage" to several groups designated as terrorists by the U.S., including Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda's Syrian branch, Jabhat Al-Nusra.
The network's statement disputes all those contentions.Read More...