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Full Statement By U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman

The full statement by U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman delivered at the Moscow bureau of RFE/RL and VOA on November 17:

"I’m here for a specific reason as the United States ambassador. I’m here because we as Americans believe that freedom of the press and transparency are all an absolutely critical ingredient to a successful and strong democratic system. It’s part of what has given rise to our strength in the United States. We have a lot of different voices. We have a lot of different sources that provide news and cover politicians and cover the affairs of my country. We believe that in any democracy, that the work that goes on by the many people in this room is absolutely critical.

"So when we hear about things like the possibility for retaliation around the FARA law that we have in the United States out of the Department of Justice, which is simply a means by which in the United States we can provide greater transparency behind those news outlets that are funded by governments that are promoting a particular political line, that people know exactly whose funding it and know where those voices are coming from. It does nothing in terms of impacting the production side, the content, the messages that are delivered. Nothing at all. That’s part of our First Amendment in the United States.

"So I’m a little concerned as the United States ambassador when I hear of the potential of threats to take action in response to our FARA that would effectively designate members of the media as 'foreign agents,' which is completely different from what we seek to do in the United States under FARA, which is to promote greater transparency so the viewers know the funding behind the organization and maybe what some of their messaging objectives are.

"So I’m here because we, in the embassy and as Americans, feel strongly about freedom of the press and freedom of expression. So I thank you for the opportunity to speak with all of you and visit this impressive studio. And as I’ve mentioned, I hope to come back for some interviews in this wonderful studio behind me. And we’ve already made an agreement on that, so I will very much look forward to that.

"Thank you all very much. It’s a pleasure."