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NewsClick raids: Journos call out New York Times for ‘investigative report’

Several journalists and activists in New York, USA, have extended their support to the online news outlet NewsClick after Delhi police raided its offices, residences of staff, and arrested its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and HR head under the draconian UAPA law.

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One such solitary protest was witnessed against the New York Times (NYT) which had published an ‘investigative piece’ in August, alleging NewsClick received funding from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Protesters were seen carrying yellow placards the read “NYT lies leads to Modi’s crimes against the Press”, “Stop NYT Slander against anti-war voices”, and “Hands off NewsClick and independent media.” They called out the Modi government’s stance against press freedom.

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Journalists and activists protest against the New York Times’ recent ‘investigative piece’ that alleged online news media outlet NewsClick received Chinese government funding (Photo: X/@catcontentonly)

The NYT report read that Neville Roy Singham, a US tech tycoon and millionaire based out of Shangai, funded the Chinese government’s propaganda worldwide.

“From a think tank in Massachusetts to an event space in Manhattan, from a political party in South Africa to news organizations in India and Brazil, The Times tracked hundreds of millions of dollars to groups linked to Mr Singham that mix progressive advocacy with Chinese government talking points,” the report stated.

“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Mr Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick,” the report added.

Singham is the founder of ThoughtWorks, a global technology consultancy. Its client list includes Australian airline Qantas and German pharma giant Bayer, news agency Thomson Reuters, retail giant Walmart and India’s Axis Bank. In 2017, the company was sold to a private equity firm for a reported sum of $785 million.

NewsClick raids

On October 3, NewsClick offices and residences of its former and current employees were raided by the Delhi Police. Many senior journalists, including Purkayastha, Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, along with historian Sohail Hashmi, were picked up for questioning. Police seized electronic devices such as laptops, mobiles and documents for investigation.

After over 6 hours of questioning, many were let off. However, Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty were arrested under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). The organisation is currently sealed by the police.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta spoke to reporters saying nine police personnel came to his house in Gurugram at 6.30 am.

“I came with them voluntarily to the office of Delhi Police’s Special Cell at Lodhi Road. The same set of questions were asked again that am I an employee of NewsClick. I said no, I am a consultant. They asked me about my salary.

“They also asked me that have I covered the Delhi riots. I said no. Then on covering the farmers’ agitation, I said yes. They asked me how long I have been consultant with them. I said since May 2018. After I came here, I learnt that an FIR has been lodged apparently under the UAPA… I have been here since around 8.30 am and I am leaving now around 6 pm,” Thakurta said.

Purkayastha and Chakravarthy have been sent to seven days of police custody by a Delhi court.

The raids and simultaneous crackdown on journalists received the ire of many organisations, fellow journalists and politicians who condemned the raids and subsequent arrests ferociously.

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