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Yahoo News: FBI Investigating Russian News Agency Sputnik

Image: Yahoo News: FBI Investigating Russian News Agency Sputnik

By    |   Monday, 11 Sep 2017 09:04 AM

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has questioned a former White House correspondent for the news agency Sputnik, which is funded by the Russian government, amid a probe into whether Sputnik is working as an undeclared propaganda site for the Russian government, according to Yahoo News.

The probe seeks to determine whether Sputnik has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Yahoo News’ report said.

In the probe, the FBI has obtained a thumb drive with thousands of internal Sputnik emails and documents, which could help prosecutors in an investigation into whether Sputnik helped with the Russian government’s "influence campaign" that took place during the 2016 presidential elections, according to Yahoo News.

U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia’s influence campaign is still at work, Yahoo News' report added.

Andrew Feinberg, the former White House correspondent, downloaded the information in the thumb drive to his laptop before his May firing. He told Yahoo News that an FBI agent and a Justice Department national security lawyer questioned him Sept. 1 about Sputnik’s "internal structure, editorial processes and funding."

"They wanted to know where did my orders come from and if I ever got any direction from Moscow. They were interested in examples of how I was steered towards covering certain issues," Feinberg told Yahoo News.

Feinberg said that his supervisors would regularly say, "Moscow wants this or Moscow wants that," as instructions to him in his White House correspondent job.

"We are not confirming whether specific matters are or are not part of our ongoing investigation," a spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller said in an email to Yahoo News.

Members of Congress and others have urged the Justice Department to look into the actions of Sputnik, as well as Russian news organization RT, Yahoo News reported.

A former FBI counterintelligence agent, Asha Rangappa, said in Yahoo News that this probe is "incredibly significant."

"The FBI has since the 1970s taken pains not to be perceived in any way as infringing on First Amendment activity. But this tells me they have good information and intelligence that these organizations have been acting on behalf of the Kremlin and that there’s a direct line between them and the (Russian influence campaign operations) that are a significant threat to our democracy," said Rangappa.

Sputnik’s U.S. editor-in-chief, Mindia Gavasheli, denied the claims, and told Yahoo News that the organization did not know it was being investigated. “Any assertion that we are not a news organization is simply false… this is the first time I’m hearing about it, and I don’t think anyone at Sputnik was contacted, so thank you for letting us know,” Gavasheli said, according to Yahoo News.

The editor-in-chief blamed "hysteria" for the investigation. "I think it tells about the atmosphere of hysteria that we are witnessing now… anything being related to Russia right now is being considered a spycraft of some sort,” Gavasheli added in Yahoo News.

At his job interview with Sputnik, Feinberg was asked, "What would you do if we asked you to write something that wasn’t true?" the former correspondent said in an Aug. 21 Politico report in which he detailed his work at Sputnik.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has questioned a former White House correspondent for the news agency Sputnik, which is funded by the Russian government, amid a probe into whether Sputnik is working as an undeclared propaganda site for the Russian government, according to Yahoo News.
fbi, sputnik, investigation
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2017-04-11
Monday, 11 Sep 2017 09:04 AM
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