Jerusalem24 – The US Justice Department has ordered the Social Media News platform AJ+ to register itself as a foreign agent within the United States under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.
The orders had reached AJ+ a day before the signing of the Abraham Accords between the US, Israel and the UAE. In a statement to the American paper, the New York Times, Al Jazeera condemned the order and accused the UAE for lobbying towards this political move as a precondition for the signing of the Accords. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab gulf countries have been trying to shut down Al Jazeera since they began a blockade on Qatar in 2017.
In an interview with CNN, UAE ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba, denied that the UAE had anything to do with the US Justice Department orders. “At no point in our discussions was Al Jazeera or even Qatar raised,” Al Otaiba said. “They’re really not as important as they think they are.”
Patrick Toomey, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, warned against the implications of this order. “This order is a threat to the freedom of the press,” Toomey said. ” The government should not misuse a vague and overboard ‘foreign agent’ law to target news organizations for political purposes.”
The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, was created in 1938 to prevent foreign propaganda from swaying the American public. Companies or individuals considered to be working on behalf of a foreign government in the US are required to disclose their funding and relationship with a foreign government or actor with the DOJ, which then publishes the information online.