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How deeply must a U.S. citizen be involved in the spread of foreign propaganda for that citizen to become a foreign propagandist himself? That’s a question at the center of a lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice last week by a company helping a Russian media outlet air its programming in the U.S.
The media outlet is Sputnik, which the U.S. intelligence community has alleged was a major component of the Russian government’s U.S. propaganda efforts leading up to the 2016 election. DOJ determined last year that Sputnik qualifies as a “foreign principal” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act—over Sputnik’s vehement objections—meaning that U.S. individuals or entities that broadcast its programming stateside must register as foreign agents.