The FBI is looking into the Russia-funded news outlet Sputnik to see whether the website is an unregistered propaganda arm of the Russian government, according to Yahoo News.
Sputnik could be in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act which requires foreign governments to declare who is advocating on their behalf in the U.S.
Former Sputnik White House correspondent Andrew Feinberg was interviewed for several hours Sept. 1, Yahoo reports.
The FBI investigators “wanted to know where did my orders come from and if I ever got any direction from Moscow,” Feinberg told Yahoo. “They were interested in examples of how I was steered towards covering certain issues.”
The investigators asked about Sputnik’s “internal structure, editorial processes and funding.”
“This is incredibly significant,” Asha Rangappa, former FBI counterintelligence agent currently associate dean of Yale Law School, told Yahoo. “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,” Rangappa said.
There is a chance that the FBI has also found evidence “that there’s a direct line” between Sputnik and the influence campaign Russia engaged in to destabilize the 2016 elections.
The FBI did would not comment on whether it was conducting an investigation, a spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Feinberg was fired from his position at Sputnik in late May, after he refused to report on rumors surrounding Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in D.C. last summer. Feinberg said the story Sputnik had asked him to investigate “had absolutely no factual basis.” Fox News had reported, then retracted days before Feinberg’s departure, that a private investigator who claimed to have information linking Rich to the leaks of DNC emails released by WikiLeak.
Sputnik is owned by the Moscow-funded Segodnya, which launched the U.S. website in 2014.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Feinberg was fired from Sputnik. An earlier version said he resigned.
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