Police ask court to protect identities of 5 ‘potential witnesses’ against NewsClick: Indian Express

The report said police are likely to send over 400 electronic devices to government agencies for further probe.

WrittenBy:NL Team
A picture of Prabir Purkayastha.

The Delhi police has moved court to protect the identities of five “potential witnesses” against news outlet NewsClick and its founder Prabir Purkayastha in the UAPA case, Indian Express reported. Their statements were recorded under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure earlier this month.   

The investigation officer in the case moved the application before a Patiala House court after recording the statements, the report said. It cited an unnamed source as saying that the application was moved as the case was “sensitive” and had “international ramifications” 

The source was also quoted as saying that “around 60 people” associated with NewsClick have been probed, and “over 400 electronic devices” are expected to be sent to the IT ministry’s Indian Computer Emergency Response Team and CFSL for further probe.  

The portal’s founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakraborty were arrested under the UAPA on October 3, after The New York Times alleged that NewsClick was among Chinese propaganda outlets funded by US businessman Neville Roy Singham. Later, in a four-page rebuttal, Singham had called the NYT article “misleading” and an “innuendo-laden hit piece”.

The Delhi police had questioned about 50 journalists linked to NewsClick and seized their electronic devices in the run up to the arrests. 

The allegations against the news portal revolve around China-linked foreign funding violations. The FIR in the case, which also named incarcerated activist Gautam Navlakha, stated that Purkayastha, Chakravarty and Singham had allegedly discussed “how to create a map of India without Kashmir and to show Arunachal Pradesh as disputed area”. 

In November, the Enforcement Directorate summoned Singham in the case, and the Delhi police had sought “financial” details of five companies linked to him in a letter to the US authorities.  

Meanwhile, NewsClick has denied all the allegations, terming the police action as an attempt to “stifle fearless voices”. 

Newslaundry had earlier reported that with the NewsClick office sealed, and the journalists’ devices seized, the news portal was struggling to publish with borrowed devices. Read about it here.

Also see
article image‘Law used as weapon to create chilling effect’: NewsClick to HC
article imageA week after police action, CBI FIR against NewsClick over ‘foreign funds’
article imageNewsClick and patterns of repression: The tiredness of being a journalist


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