Report: Russian News Agency Under FBI Investigation

Ex-WH correspondent for Sputnik reportedly turned over thousands of files to bureau
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2017 3:56 PM CDT
Report: Russian News Agency Under FBI Investigation
Did the news agency take its directive from Moscow?   (Getty Images/yulenochekk)

There are plenty of investigations happening on Russia, but a new one may have just been added to the pile. Yahoo News says it learned the FBI is poking around to get info on Sputnik, the news agency funded by the Russian government, with one of the FBI's lines of inquiry directed toward an ex-White House correspondent for Sputnik. As part of the probe, Andrew Feinberg handed over to FBI agents a thumb drive containing thousands of internal Sputnik correspondence, which he says he downloaded before he was canned in May. The overall investigation is meant to suss out whether Sputnik has been spreading propaganda on behalf of the Kremlin in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA—and whether the files on Feinberg's thumb drive could help prove Sputnik had something to do with Russia's "influence campaign" in the election.

Yahoo, which first learned about the probe from a US intelligence source, then got in touch with Feinberg, who said he'd been interviewed by an FBI agent and DOJ lawyer for more than two hours on Sept. 1 at the FBI's DC field office. He says he took his orders as a correspondent from DC supervisors at Sputnik, though they'd regularly say, "Moscow wants this or Moscow wants that." He says the interview focused on the news agency's "internal structure, editorial processes, and funding." It's not clear if the questioning was under the purview of special counsel Robert Mueller. Meanwhile, Mindia Gavasheli, Sputnik's US editor, said he hadn't heard of an FBI probe and "any assertion that we are not a news organization is simply false." More here. (Reuters dug into a possible Sputnik role earlier this year.)

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