Washington The US has seen reports about the alleged ties of an Indian media outlet with China but cannot comment on the veracity of the claims, a senior American official said.
“We have seen reports about this outlet’s ties to the People’s Republic of China, but we can’t comment yet on the veracity of those claims”, State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at a news conference here on Tuesday.
Delhi Police on Tuesday arrested media outlet NewsClick’s founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty after searching more than 30 locations and questioning 46 journalists in a case filed under the anti-terror law (UAPA) following allegations that the portal received money for pro-China propaganda.
Police have sealed NewsClick’s office in Delhi, and digital devices, including laptops and mobile phones, and documents were taken away for examination.
Patel said, “Separately, of course though, the US government strongly supports the robust role of the media globally, including social media, in a vibrant and free democracy.” “We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian government, with countries around the world, through our diplomatic engagements that are at the core of our bilateral relationship.
“We have urged the Indian government and have done so not just with India, but other countries as well, about the importance of respecting the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression both online and offline,” he said.
“I don’t have additional information though, about this particular circumstance or any of the underlying issues that may or may not be related to this outlet, however,” Patel added.
The New York Times, in an investigated story in August, reported about the raided Indian media outlet receiving funds from an Indian American having ties to Chinese propaganda interests.
“A Times investigation had linked the site to a pro-China network,” the daily reported.
“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Mr. Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points,” The New York Times then wrote.
The New York Times was referring to American millionaire Neville Roy Singham, who the Delhi Police have accused of spreading Chinese propaganda in India and abroad through his funding network and his IT consulting company, ThoughtWorks.