Journalist Rana Ayyub was stopped at the Mumbai airport before her flight to London to deliver a speech on the intimidation of journalists. She alleged that summons by the Enforcement Directorate “very curiously” reached her email inbox only after she was halted at immigration.
The journalist is an accused in an alleged money laundering case which is being probed by the ED.
Ayyub tweeted that the eleventh hour summons came despite the event by the International Center for Journalists being made public on social media weeks ago.
I was stopped today at the Indian immigration while I was about to board my flight to London to deliver my speech on the intimidation of journalists with @ICFJ . I was to travel to Italy right after to deliver the keynote address at the @journalismfest on the Indian democracy— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) March 29, 2022
Following the incident, the ICFJ said on Twitter that it was “alarmed at the blatant legal harassment of Rana Ayyub by Indian authorities”, and called for authorities to “end their legal and digital harassment campaign against the multi-award-winning Washington Post journalist”.
ICFJ stands with @RanaAyyub and we reiterate our demand for the Indian authorities to end their legal and digital harassment campaign against the multi-award-winning @washingtonpost journalist. #LetRanaFly #WeStandWithRana https://t.co/yFuXvuusGr— International Center for Journalists (@ICFJ) March 29, 2022
Earlier in February, the ED had locked assets worth over Rs 1.77 crore belonging to Ayyub.
Since September 2021, Ayyub has been under investigation due to an FIR which accuses her of raising funds for charity through crowdfunding website Ketto and using them for personal use.
The FIR also accuses Ayyub of violating the for allegedly receiving foreign money without any approval certificate or registration from the government. It was based on a complaint by Vikas Sankrityayan, co-founder of Hindu IT Cell, a Hindu supremacist group with a for targeted harassment.
Ayyub called the latest FIR “baseless” and “malicious” and maintained that the “entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused”.
This was not the first FIR filed against Ayyub last year. In June, the Ghaziabad police her for tweeting out a Muslim man’s allegations of assault by a Hindu mob. She had moved the Bombay High Court and obtained protection from arrest for four weeks.
Sources in the ED told the Indian Express that Ayyub had been summoned twice but she responded to only one summons following which a lookout circular was issued against her. Sources told the paper that based on this, Ayyub was detained by immigration authorities.
Ayyub was issued fresh summons Tuesday for appearance in Delhi on April 1.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Ayyub said, “I got the first summon in September or October last year when Mumbai ED was probing a forex violations case. I not only met them but provided them all the required documents. The next time I got summons in January, but I had Covid and so sought more time.”
According to Ayyub, she received the fresh summons after she had already been detained at the airport. “I was told I have to go back home. I was supposed to receive an award and also address the newsroom of the Guardian newspaper. My entire plan has been public all this while and I have always been in touch with ED. In fact, ED Delhi is asking for documents that I have already submitted with Mumbai ED, but they keep asking me to get them. I have written several emails to Mumbai ED for the same but have got no response,” Ayyub said.