Editors Guild expresses concern over ED raids at news portal NewsClick

New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Wednesday expressed concern about ED raids at the office of media portal NewsClick, and residences of its senior journalists and officials.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had on Tuesday conducted searches at multiple premises linked to the news portal, its promoters and some others in connection with a money laundering probe, official sources said.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the EGI noted that in the recent past, the website has been at the frontline of reporting on the farmers agitation, the anti-CAA protests, and has been critical of various government policies and of a few powerful corporates houses.

"EGI is concerned that raids by government agencies are not used as coercive measures to suppress free and independent journalism. The Guild demands that care be taken to not undermine the news operations of NewsClick and that its journalists and stakeholders are not harassed under the garb of such measures," it said.

Earlier on Tuesday, DIGIPUB News India Foundation, the umbrella body of the digital media organisations, had issued a statement condemning the raid.

"DIGIPUB News India Foundation strongly condemns the raids conducted by the Enforcement Directorate at the office of NewsClick, and the homes of its directors and editor Prabir Purkayastha," it said. "NewsClick has always upheld the highest standards of journalistic integrity and speaking truth to power. Its commendable journalistic work seeking to hold power accountable speaks for itself."

"DIGIPUB News India Foundation believes that the ED raids on NewsClick, its editor and directors, is a clear attempt to suppress journalism critical of the government and its allies," it added.

"Such use of state agencies to intimidate journalists and suppress adversarial journalism is detrimental to not only the freedom of the press, but also the very idea of democratic accountability. Everyone emerges poorer in the long run," the statemenr further said.

The central agency on Tuesday said that about eight premises were raided that included those of the website -- NewsClick -- and its promoters in South Delhi's Saidulajab, Gurgaon and some other areas. The action was taken as per provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED has taken cognisance of a Delhi Police FIR to initiate a money laundering probe in this instance, the sources said.

The organisation's official website said, "NewsClick is an independent media organization dedicated to covering news from India and elsewhere with a focus on progressive movements." It is founded by Prabir Purkayastha, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of the organisation. DIGIPUB, an umbrella organisation of news websites, issued a statement, saying the action was an attack on free press. It said it was an act to "suppress journalism critical of the government and its allies".

The raids by the central probe agency are being undertaken to collect more evidence, the sources said.

They said the probe is linked to some suspect foreign funding and the role of a "defunct company" shut for about last two years that was allegedly used to transact funds worth over Rs 30 crore.

The role of an activist is also under the scanner of the agency in this case, the sources claimed.

(With PTI inputs)

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