CPJ says Indian police raids on NewsClick office, journalists’ homes are an attack on press freedom
October 3, 2023
October 3, 2023 12:57 PM EDT
New Delhi, October 3, 2023– The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Indian authorities to immediately release NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Purkayastha and stop trying to intimidate journalists through tactics such as Tuesday’s police raids on the Delhi office of Indian news website NewsClick and the homes of at least 12 staff and journalists with ties to the outlet.
“The arrest of NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha and the raids on NewsClick and the homes of at least 12 of its former and current journalists are an act of sheer harassment and intimidation,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Frankfurt, Germany. “This is the latest attack on press freedom in India. We urge the Indian government to immediately cease these actions as journalists must be allowed to work without fear of intimidation or reprisal.”
On Tuesday, Delhi police arrested Purkayastha and NewsClick’s head of human resources, Amit Chakravarty, as part of an investigation into suspected foreign funding of the media outlet, a charge that NewsClick denies.
Earlier in the day, police searched the office of NewsClick and the homes of several of its staff and contributing journalists and seized several electronic devices, including laptops and phones.
The homes of the following journalists were searched; the six names marked with an asterisk were also questioned by the Delhi Police Special Cell, a unit of Delhi Police that investigates cases of terrorism and organized crime:
Subodh Varma, an editor
Satyam Tiwari*, a reporter
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta*, a contributor
Abhisar Sharma*, a contributor
Urmilesh*, a contributor
Aunindyo Chakraborty*, a contributor
Bhasha Singh, a contributor
Anuradha Raman, a contributor
Aditi Nigam, an editor
Sumedha Pal, a contributor
Irfan K., a cartoonist
Independent non-profit news website The Wire reported that Delhi Police’s Special Cell initiated an investigation into NewsClick in August, alleging violations of five sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, including raising funds for terrorist acts and conspiracy, as well as two sections of the Indian Penal Code, including promoting enmity between different groups based on various factors.
In 2021, the Enforcement Directorate searched NewsClick premises and the residences of four members of senior management as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering linked to foreign funding.