In a significant development, a Delhi court has ordered the founder of online media outlet NewsClick, Prabir Purkayastha, and its human resources head, Amit Chakravarty, to seven days of police custody in connection with a case filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Their arrests came following a series of raids carried out in response to allegations made in a New York Times article suggesting that NewsClick was receiving payments to promote Chinese propaganda.
The Delhi Police conducted raids on Tuesday morning targeting the NewsClick team, including independent journalists who contribute to the platform. These actions were prompted by an investigation conducted by The New York Times in August, which accused NewsClick of being financially backed by a network connected to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham. The investigation alleged that NewsClick was involved in promoting Chinese propaganda.
Apart from the UAPA case, NewsClick is also facing a pending money laundering case. The accusations in the money laundering case include overvaluation of shares, misappropriation of funds, and violation of foreign direct investment (FDI) regulations.
NewsClick and Purkayastha had previously approached the Delhi High Court seeking access to the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against them in the money laundering case. During the proceedings, the High Court, in interim orders issued on June 21, 2021, and July 20, 2021, directed the ED not to take any coercive action against the website and its founder.
However, in August, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to NewsClick and Purkayastha in response to a plea by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking the vacation of these protective orders against coercive action.
Additionally, NewsClick has filed a petition in the High Court seeking to quash a criminal complaint lodged by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), and this matter is presently pending before the court. The developments mark a critical moment for the digital media outlet as it grapples with legal challenges and accusations related to its funding sources and alleged involvement in promoting Chinese propaganda.
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