The United States of America made statement on the Income Tax department's raids at the British Broadcasting Company's offices in Mumbai and Delhi.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told media that the US is aware of the survey operation conducted by I-T officials at the BBC offices but cannot offer a judgement.
"We are aware of the search of the BBC offices in Delhi by Indian tax authorities. I would need to refer you to Indian authorities for the details of this search. Beyond this discrete action, what I'll say more broadly is the general point that I've consistently made in this context, but in a universal context as well," Price told reporters.
During his interaction with media, he further said free press is crucial for democracies and their strengthening. "We support the importance of a free press around the world. We continue to highlight the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief as human rights that contribute to strengthening democracies around the world. It has strengthened this democracy here in this country. It has strengthened India's democracy," Price asserted.
Price, addressing a question on whether India's IT department action went against the spirit of democracy, said that they were "not in a position to offer a judgement," even though they are aware of the "facts of these searches".
I-T sleuths searches BBC's offices
The IT sleuths, on February 14, searched the UK-based broadcaster's offices in Delhi and Mumbai. The Income Tax officials said the operation was part of a tax evasion investigation.
Action after BBC's documentary on 2002 riots
The action came weeks after the broadcaster's two-part documentary on 2002 Gujarat riots and India was first aired. The External Affairs Ministry had accused BBC of engaging in 'anti-India' propaganda.
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