Indian court extends detention of journalists accused of illegal financing

New Delhi, Oct 10 (EFE).- An Indian court ordered the journalist and founder of the digital outlet Newsclick to remain in custody for ten days, along with another employee of the company, after spending seven days in detention in a case of illegal financing related to China.

The founder of Newsclick, Prabir Purkayastha, and the company’s human resources director, Amit Chakravarty, are being held by order of the Patiala court, their lawyer, Arshdeep Singh Khurana, told EFE.

Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested a week ago under the strict anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), after a special unit of the Delhi police simultaneously searched a hundred locations, including the homes of journalists and employees, confiscating phones and computers.

Khurana lamented in court that Newsclick members were being arrested under an anti-terrorism law even though none of the charges filed by the police fit the crime.

“There is no allegation that I used bombs, dynamite or any other explosive substance. There is no allegation that I used any criminal force or that I caused death of any public functionary. There is no act of detention kidnapping or abduction,”asked Purkayastha’s attorney in his representation, the Indian specialized media Bar and Bench reported.

“So, I ask myself how by having journalism as a profession, by reporting, I can commit any of these offenses,” he added.

The Enforcement Directorate, a law enforcement agency specializing in economic crimes, along with the Income Tax Department, conducted a series of raids on Newsclick’s offices in 2021.

Indian authorities have accused the digital media company of irregular foreign funding and money laundering.

The arrests of Purkayastha and Chakravarty came after the New York Times published a story implicating Newsclick as part of a network of media outlets involved in spreading Chinese propaganda and funded by an American millionaire, Neville Roy Singham.

The arrests and searches of journalists and employees of the media outlet sparked widespread protests, with organizations such as the Press Club of India and the Publishers Guild denouncing the authorities’ harassment of press freedom.

The international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounced in a report last March the progressive deterioration of press freedom in India, which fell to 161st position out of 180 in its latest index, eleven places worse than in 2022. EFE


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