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U.S. Congressional Press Office Strips RT Of Credentials

WASHINGTON -- The organization overseeing media access to the U.S. Congress has stripped Russia state-funded TV channel RT of its press credentials.

The move by the Executive Committee of the Congressional Radio And Television Correspondents Gallery comes just weeks after the TV channel complied with an order by the U.S. Justice Department to register under a decades-old law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

In a letter dated November 29 and addressed to RT's U.S. operating unit, T&R Productions, the committee said that the company became ineligible for congressional press credentials upon registering under the FARA law. The committee said it voted unanimously to strip RT's credentials on November 21.

A call placed to the corporate listing for T&R Productions was not immediately returned.

The Radio And Television Gallery, which serves as a liaison between the broadcast media and U.S. Congress, is controlled by an executive committee of correspondents who determine which media qualifies for access.

On November 13, RT, formerly known as Russia Today, filed registration for T&R Productions, a move that followed accusations by U.S. authorities that the channel was spreading propaganda.

RT and Russian government officials have complained repeatedly about being forced to register, saying it will require onerous new paperwork and other efforts.

Last week, in what Moscow called a "symmetrical response" to U.S. pressure on Russian media, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation that empowers the government to designate media outlets receiving funding from abroad as "foreign agents."

The Russian Justice Ministry is expected to release a list of designated media in coming days.

Among those organizations that Russian agencies and lawmakers have suggested could be targeted are Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America, CNN, and Germany's Deutsche Welle.

RT is not the only foreign media outlet that has registered under FARA. At least six other organizations, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Japan’s NHK, China Daily, and others were also listed under the most recent Justice Department compliance record, published earlier this year.

Another Russia-funded news organization, Sputnik, has also been accused by U.S. authorities of engaging in spreading propaganda. That organization has not registered under FARA to date, though a U.S. radio station that Sputnik is contracted with to carry its broadcasts in the Washington, D.C.-area was forced to register earlier this month.