The FBI is reportedly investigating Sputnik, a Russian government-funded news agency, in a probe to determine whether it is acting as an undeclared propaganda agency for the Kremlin, according to reports.
Yahoo News reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has obtained a thumb drive with thousands of Sputnik emails and documents to see if it contains information that can be used to show it played a role in the Russian government’s meddling in the 2016 election.
The FBI recently questioned Andrew Feinberg, a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, who downloaded the emails and documents before he was fired earlier this year, Yahoo News reports.
“They wanted to know where did my orders come from and if I ever got any direction from Moscow,” Feinberg told Yahoo News. “They were interested in examples of how I was steered towards covering certain issues.”
It was not immediately unclear whether the FBI was acting as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether members of President Donald Trump’s campaign had any links with the Kremlin.
The FBI is reportedly trying to determine if Sputnik is in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires people acting as agents of a foreign entity make public disclosures of their relationships.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort filed forms under FARA showing he received money from a political party in Ukraine from 2012 to 2014. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn also filed disclosure forms saying he provided assistance in 2016 to a Turkish businessman involved in politics in that country.
Both Sputnik and RT, another Russian news service, were identified in a January report by the U.S. intelligence community as being part of Russia’s “state-run propaganda machine” that published news beneficial to Trump.
You can read all of Yahoo News’ report here.