A bipartisan group of United States lawmakers sent a letter on Tuesday to United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him to compel Al Jazeera, the Middle Eastern news outlet owned by the Qatari government, to register as a state-controlled agent in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Al Jazeera “directly undermines American interests,” the lawmakers charged in the letter. Bloomberg reported that they also charged that the network, which reaches 310 million people in more than 160 countries, broadcasts “favorable coverage of U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” including Hamas and Hezbollah.
In their letter, they cited a 2009 assessment of a U.S. ambassador to Qatar who called Al Jazeera “one of Qatar’s most valuable political and diplomatic tools.”
The officials are also demanding the Justice Department to investigate reports that Al Jazeera infiltrated nonprofit organizations in the United States. “American citizens deserve to know whether the information and news media they consume is impartial, or if it is deceptive propaganda pushed by foreign nations,” they stated.
They further deemed Al Jazeera’s broadcasts “anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel” and urged regulators to investigate if the content is in breach of U.S. law.
The letter was authored by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D – N.J.) and Lee Zeldin (R – N.Y.).
Other signatories include Senator Ted Cruz (R – Texas), Rep. Ron DeSantis (R – Fla.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R – Fla.) , Rep. Louie Gohmert (R – Texas), Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, Rep. Darrell Issa (R – Calif.), Rep. Mike Johnson (R – La.), Rep. Peter King (R – N.Y.), Rep. Ted Poe (R – Texas), Rep. Tom Reed (R – N.Y.), Rep. Keith Rothfus (R – Pa.), Rep. David Rouzer (R – N.C.) , Rep. Steve Stivers (R – Ohio), Rep. Tom Suozzi (D – N.Y.), Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R – Fla.), Rep. Steve Chabot (R – Ohio) and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R – Texas).
If the Justice Department rules in favor of the congressman, Al Jazeera would be the third news organization to receive such scrutiny. In 2017, the Russian-run media outlet RT and Radio Sputnik were forced to disclose information under FARA, after U.S. intelligence officials classified the outlets as “the backbone of the Russian government’s propaganda apparatus.”
In accordance with FARA, Al Jazeera or its U.S. contractors would have to disclose information on their corporate structure, budget, expenditures and personnel, which the Justice Department would put on public record.
Al Jazeera would still be able to broadcast in the U.S. The network was not available for comment.
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