A group of retired judges, IPS, IRS and IAS officers, and armed forces officers has written a letter to the President demanding action against news portal Newsclick in light of a recent report by ‘The New York Times’ claiming that the portal was funded by a Chinese proxy.
“We have no words to describe such people except as traitors. … we are giving too wide a leverage to all kinds of inimical forces under the garb of ‘free press’. … The email exchanges that are in the public domain establish beyond doubt that these people are not leaders but dealers. They are not columnists but actually fifth columnists,” the letter said.
The 255 signatories of the letter consist of 14 retired judges, 112 retired bureaucrats including 12 former ambassadors and 129 retired armed forces officers.
While Newsclick founder Prabir Purkayastha did not respond to calls and messages, in a statement issued on Monday, the portal had denied the allegations.
“We respect the sanctity of the legal process and do not intend to indulge in a media trial. The allegations being made against us by certain political actors and sections of the media are unfounded and without basis in fact or law,” it said.
“Newsclick is an independent news organisation, and any insinuation that we function as a mouth-piece of the Communist Party of China or other interests is false. We reiterate our faith in the Indian courts, and are confident that Newsclick has, and continues to function in accordance with Indian law,” it added.
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A report by ‘The New York Times’ on August 7 alleged that certain organisations and foundations associated with American millionaire Neville Roy Singham have been funding pro-China propaganda and discourse across the world, including in India. The NYT report has claimed that news portal NewsClick has been funded by Singham’s network – an allegation first made by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021, when the agency began probing the news portal.
The ED, which had raided NewsClick premises in February, 2021, had said that foreign remittances allegedly totalling over Rs 77 crore had been received by NewsClick between 2018 and 2021. These remittances came in the form of subscriptions to shares of PPK Newsclick Studio, which owns the news portal, and for providing certain services, the ED has claimed.
The remittances had come from companies such as Worldwide Media Holdings LLC, Delaware, Justice & Education Fund Inc; Tricontinental Ltd Inc, USA; G Span LLC, USA; and Centro Popular Demidas of Brazil. The ED has claimed that these companies are linked to Singham who it claimed is “a contact person of CPC (Communist Party of China)”.