NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha
Journalist Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of NewsClick, has been arrested under anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, days after a New York Times investigation alleged that the news portal had received funding from a network pushing Chinese propaganda.
Amit Chakravarty, the HR head of the news portal, has also been arrested.
Earlier today, searches at the homes of journalists linked with NewsClick were carried at 20-odd locations across Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, prompting protests from the opposition, with some calling it a "crackdown on press freedom".
"A total of 37 male suspects have been questioned at premises, 9 female suspects have been questioned at their respective places of stay and digital devices, documents etc. have been seized/collected for examination. The proceedings are still ongoing; so far, two accused, Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty have been arrested," a source from Delhi Police told NDTV, adding that further investigation is underway.
The Delhi Police has claimed that NewsClick allegedly received nearly Rs 38 crore from entities with alleged links to China and the funds were used to influence pro-China content on the website.
The police sources added that 29 crore was allegedly received as fees for export services while Rs 9 crore was received as FDI through inflating share prices.
The funds, say sources, were also shared with activists Teesta Setalvad and Gautam Navlakha.
Hours after the raids, the Editors Guild of India, the non-profit organisation of journalists, urged the Centre to follow due process, and not make draconian criminal laws "as tools for press intimidation".
"EGI is concerned that these raids are yet another attempt to muzzle the media. While we recognise that the law must take its course if actual offences are involved, the due process has to be followed. The investigation of specific offences must not create a general atmosphere of intimidation under the shadow of draconian laws, or impinge on the freedom of expression and the raising of dissenting and critical voices," the Editors Guild said in a statement.