WASHINGTON, The production company for the Russian state-funded television network RT has registered with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as a foreign agent, federal disclosures showed on Monday.
The Washington-based company, T&R Productions, filed the disclosure to formally register as a foreign agent of ANO TV-Novosti, described as a non-governmental organization "under Russian Federation law."
The forms said ANO TV-Novosti has principal responsibilities for "creating a TV network that will be competitive with other TV networks operating around the world."
But the DOJ, which announced the registration and published the forms on Monday, labeled ANO TV-Novosti as "the Russian government entity responsible for the worldwide broadcasts of the RT Network."
"Americans have a right to know who is acting in the United States to influence the U.S. government or public on behalf of foreign principals," Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente said in a statement Monday.
The Justice Department demanded in September that the company providing service to RT America on U.S. soil register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The legislation, adopted in 1938 to counter Nazi Germany, requires detailed disclosures of the activities of individuals and organizations that attempt to influence U.S. policy or public opinion for foreign-related entities.
"The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing FARA and expects compliance with the law by all entities engaged in specified activities on behalf of any foreign principal, regardless of its nationality," Boente said.
The RT said it complied with the U.S. demand to make the filing by Nov. 13 or their employees could face imprisonment and have their assets seized.
The production company said in its filing that it "respectfully disagrees that FARA should apply," while stressing it has editorial control over its programs and its on-air employees are given reasonable creative discretion.
It claimed that its news, talk shows and entertainment programs are "not aimed to primarily benefit any foreign government or political party."
"Between a criminal case and registration, we chose the latter," RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan tweeted Monday, "We congratulate American freedom of speech and all who still believe in it."
The U.S. Congress and federal investigators are probing into Russian news outlets' role in alleged Moscow's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In January, the RT was singled out by U.S. intelligence community for the impact it may have on the election.
The TV network was then accused of seeking to undermine the U.S. election with "consistently negative" coverage of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Last week, the Russian Embassy in the United States lashed out at the U.S. government for requiring the RT to register, calling it "an unacceptable violation of the international norms of free press."
Russian lawmakers said they are working on retaliatory measures, warning of a "tit-for-tat" response for such U.S. moves.