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U.S. global media agency demanded outlets return money for internet freedom projects

The official and others spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media.

What the outlets did: In response to the agency’s demands, Middle East Broadcasting Networks provided a paper check of $500,000, and Radio Free Asia provided a check worth $2.9 million, according to two people familiar with the matter. Until last year, the OTF was a program of Radio Free Asia. It’s unclear how Radio Free Europe responded to the order.

The plans: USAGM wants to reallocate the money to other internet freedom projects, and according to a separate agency employee, USAGM officials have been in touch in recent months with the maker of Ultrasurf, software that provides internet firewall circumvention code and which was developed by a member of the Falun Gong, a persecuted Chinese religious minority.

For the last several years, USAGM had refused to provide money for Ultrasurf

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