India: Authorities question editor and editor-in-chief in their investigation of Newsclick

Newsclick’s editor, Pranjal Pandey, and editor-in-chief, Prebir Purkayastha, were questioned on June 30 by authorities from India’s Income Tax Department, claiming that they were investigating a case of money laundering within the news outlet. The International Federation of Journalists condemns the investigation into this independent and progressive voice within the region and asserts the rights of journalists to report without fear of harassment.

Delhi police patrol streets of New Delhi during lockdown. Credit: SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP

Purkayastha and Pandey were questioned on June 30 for around five hours after authorities raided NewsClick’s offices. The pair was questioned by investigators over their tax filings, transactions, contracts and syndicated content. On the morning of their questioning, Purkayastha and Pandey received a summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a part of Delhi’s police force, forcing them to appear before the court on July 8 and July 9 respectively.

NewsClick has been covering India’s nationwide farmers protests since they began in September 2020. Some reports say authorities opened this investigation as a retaliation to their extensive reporting.

The Enforcement Directorate’s case is based on a First Information Report (FIR) by the economic offences wing from 2020 that claimed that NewsClick in 2018 had violated foreign direct investment rules by receiving Rs 9.59 crore from Worldwide Media Holdings LLC, a US based firm.

Purkayastha and Pandey have been questioned before by the ED. NewsClick is arguing that the funding they received was sent before a cap on foreign investment was imposed by the Indian government in 2019.

Purkayastha said, “There is clearly an agenda coming from media organisations that don’t like what we are doing.”

The IFJ said: “The investigation into NewsClick is as a substanceless attempt by Delhi authorities to intimidate journalists out of reporting honestly. The IFJ calls on the Indian government to discontinue this investigation and allow NewClick and it’s worker to continue working without governmental harassment or obstruction.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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