Prabir Purkayastha is the founder of news website NewsClick.
NewsClick, the news website being investigated for alleged connections to China-linked entities to broadcast Chinese propaganda, has been accused of a conspiracy to "disrupt sovereignty and territorial integrity of India", according to a copy of the FIR accessed by NDTV this morning.
The FIR names NewsClick, the website's founder, Prabir Purkayastha, and its human resources head, Amit Chakravarty, as well as journalists and civil society activists, and accuses them of trying "to cause disaffection against India" and "threaten the unity, integrity, (and) security" of the country.
"... secret inputs have been received that foreign funds in crores have been illegally infused by Indian and foreign entities inimical to India... Since April 2018, such fraudulent funds in crores have been received by M/s PPK NewsCLick Studio Pvt Ltd through illegal means during a short span of five years from M/s Worldwide Media Holdings LLC and others..." the FIR states.
The document claims "foreign funds (were) fraudulently infused by Neville Roy Singham", an American millionaire believed to have close ties to the Chinese government's media machine. The funds were "routed from China in circuitous and camouflaged manner and paid news were intentionally... criticising domestic policies, development projects...", the FIR claims.
READ | 20-25 Questions, List Of Phones, Laptops To Seize: Inside NewsClick Raids
Mr Singham, who is now based in China's Shanghai, was also named in a report by The New York Times, which claims he has a worldwide financial network supporting Chinese propaganda.
READ | Explained: What Is The Case Against NewsClick? Facts And Charges
The FIR - which accuses NewsClick, Mr Purkayastha, and others of acting to "undermine the unity and territorial integrity of India" - links them to a multitude of topics, including the 2020/21 farmers protest and others for which the government was criticised by the opposition and social activists.
According to the FIR, the accused also had a "conspiracy to peddle a narrative... that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories...", "actively propagated false narratives to discredit efforts of Indian government to contain COVID-19 pandemic", and sabotaged the 2019 election that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP won with a thumping majority.
The FIR then also accuses "big Chinese telecom companies", like Xiaomi, of "illegally infusing foreign funds" into India.
NewsClick Refutes Charges
NewsClick has firmly denied all these charges and pointed out while it has been raided since 2021, no money laundering complaint has been filed yet. It said raids had been carried out by the Enforcement Directorate, Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing, and the Income Tax Department.
"Yet, in the last two plus years, the Enforcement Directorate has not been able to file a complaint accusing NewsClick of money laundering," the website said in a statement following Tuesday's raids.
Delhi Court On NewsClick FIR Copies
On Thursday a Delhi court allowed Mr Purkayastha and Mr Chakravartya to get copies of the FIR. The request had been opposed by Delhi Police, which said, "We have already provided grounds for arrest..." they said.
READ |NewsClick Founder Prabir Purkayastha Arrested In Anti-Terror Case
Mr Purkayastha was arrested late Tuesday night, hours after Delhi Police conducted raids on NewsClick offices and the homes of several journalists associated with the website. NewsClick's office in Delhi was sealed.
Case Against NewsClick
The case against NewsClick and Mr Purkayastha was registered on August 17. The FIR today lists charges under five sections of the anti-terror law, UAPA, and two of the Indian Penal Code. The media organisation has been charged with terrorist activities, terror funding and criminal conspiracy. It is also accused of promoting enmity between two groups.
The case is based on the Rs 38 crore the website allegedly received as foreign funding.
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