U.S. Orders Al Jazeera to Register as a Foreign Agent

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The Justice Department ordered a digital news community based solely in the United States and owned by Al Jazeera, the media company backed by the royal family of Qatar, to register as a international agent, shocking a excessive-stage delegation from Doha factual as officers from the 2 countries met to spice up diplomatic and economic alliances.

Al Jazeera instantaneous the switch turned into once share of a separate deal, signed on Tuesday and brokered by the Trump administration, whereby the United Arab Emirates, a Qatari rival, normalized diplomatic members of the family with Israel. The Emirates ambassador to the United States mentioned that turned into once no longer correct.

In a letter dated Monday that turned into once received by The Original York Cases, the Justice Department mentioned that AJ+, a community that primarily produces short videos for social media in English as correctly as Arabic, French and Spanish, engages in “political activities” on behalf of Qatar’s authorities and would possibly perhaps likely likely attributable to this truth be discipline to the International Agents Registration Act.

Qatar, the letter mentioned, provides the community’s funding and appoints its board of directors.

“Journalism designed to lead American perceptions of a home policy dispute or a international nation’s activities or its leadership qualifies as ‘political activities’ beneath the statutory definition,” mentioned the letter, which turned into once signed by Jay I. Bratt, the manager of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division, “even,” the letter added, “if it views itself as ‘balanced.’”

Mother Jones first reported the letter Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, Al Jazeera Media Community, AJ+’s parent group, insisted that AJ+ turned into once honest and attributable to this truth would no longer must register as a international agent, and that it turned into once “pondering our alternate options.”

Al Jazeera also instantaneous that the switch turned into once associated to the U.A.E.’s historic settlement to alter into factual the third Arab-led country to normalize members of the family with Israel.

“The U.A.E. has confirmed it introduced the United States with preconditions earlier than announcing the Abraham Accords, and we got D.O.J.’s letter the day earlier than the U.A.E. signed the Accords,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s statement, referring to the settlement signed Tuesday at the White Condo. “Hobbling Al Jazeera turned into once thought to be a few of the tip prerequisites of the U.A.E.’s blockade in opposition to Qatar and the Justice Department factual gave the U.A.E. what it wanted.”

The Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, denied that the U.A.E. had pushed for the registration as share of the deal to warmth members of the family with Israel.

“At no level in our discussions turned into once Al Jazeera or even Qatar raised,” Mr. al-Otaiba mentioned in an e-mail to The Cases.

He added, of Al Jazeera, “they’re no doubt no longer as famous as they judge they are.”

Qatar and the U.A.E., neighbors on the Persian Gulf, secure been embroiled in a bitter geopolitical competition for several years. Three years ago, the U.A.E. imposed a blockade on the runt country along with regional allies Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Among the U.A.E.’s complaints with Qatar’s authorities is its funding of Al Jazeera, whose main, Arabic-language television community turned into once sympathetic to protesters in the space at some stage in the Arab Spring of 2011.

A media handbook for the Embassy of Qatar in Washington declined to observation. But an official with knowledge of the matter mentioned the administration’s uncover deal surprised Qatari diplomats who realized of it though news experiences on Tuesday.

Marc Raimondi, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to verify the letter’s existence however mentioned, referring to the crew liable for enforcing the international agents legislation, “FARA Unit’s enforcement activities are according to following the info where they lead and the applicable legislation.”

The letter turned into once despatched to AJ+ on the identical day that Qatar’s deputy prime minister and top diplomat, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, met with top Trump administration officers for an annual strategic dialogue between the 2 international locations. As share of the talks, Secretary of Tell Mike Pompeo endorsed efforts for a “2021 Qatar Year of Culture” that can promote cultural exchanges with the United States.

“Our partnership has grown beyond factual protection and economics into thought to be one of correct friendship and community between our of us and our two international locations,” Mr. Pompeo mentioned Monday, first and predominant of the bilateral dialogue.

The talks themselves targeted on a range of points on which the 2 international locations agreed to cooperate, together with counterterrorism and navy, correctly being points, investments and bettering civil society. The blockade in opposition to Qatar turned into once also amongst the discussions, Mr. Pompeo mentioned.

“The Trump administration is desperate to hit upon this dispute resolved and to reopen Qatar’s air and land borders currently blocked by other Gulf States,” Mr. Pompeo mentioned. “I hit upon forward to progress on this dispute.”

Sooner than the talks, Qatar’s ambassador to Washington, Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, praised diplomatic members of the family with the United States. “I judge the U.S. finds in Qatar a extraordinarily official companion,” Mr. al-Thani instantaneous a runt crew of journalists in a assembly on Friday.

Two years ago, after several lawmakers known as for Al Jazeera itself to be designated a international agent, Andrea Edney, then the president of the National Press Membership, mentioned in a statement that “it’d be infamous and counterproductive to censor a news group whose work has won wide praise from the world journalism community.”

On Tuesday night, President Trump nominated Lt. Gen. Eric P. Wendt to be his next ambassador to Qatar. Same old Wendt is currently commander of NATO’s Particular Operations headquarters and it is likely he’ll be asked referring to the AJ+ designation as the Senate considers his affirmation. From 2017 to 2019, he served as the Tell Department’s security coordinator for Israel and Palestinian territories.

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