Electronic Devices of The Wire’s Editors Seized ‘Without Providing Hash Value’
The homes of The Wire’s founder-editors Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu and Sidharth Bhatia, deputy editor Jahnavi Sen and product-cum-business head Mithun Kidambi were raided by the Delhi Police and their laptops and phones seized on Monday following an FIR lodged by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) IT cell head Amit Malviya.
The electronic devices were seized “without mentioning any hash value—a unique numerical value used to ensure the integrity of the device and its data”, the news portal alleged in a statement issued after the raids.
Malviya had lodged the FIR after The Wire recently reported claiming that Meta—the parent company of WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram—had given certain privileges to him that he could use to take down posts he thought were critical of the BJP. The investigative reports were later retracted. The FIR alleges that the news portal “forged documents to malign and tarnish” his reputation.
“Today, the Delhi Police Crime Branch deployed a large contingent of its personnel across Delhi and Mumbai to the homes of our founding editors Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu, Sidharth Bhatia, deputy editor Jahnavi Sen and product-cum-business head Mithun Kidambi pursuant to a Section 91 notice issued in relation to an FIR lodged against them by BJP leader Amit Malviya,” the statement reads.
“All five cooperated and gave over the devices sought. The seizure from Kidambi began at 2:30 in the morning and lasted till 5 am. We also placed on record our demand for the hash value of the phones, computers and iPads seized and for cloned copies of the devices seized to be kept at a neutral place. The hash value is a unique numerical value used to ensure the integrity of a device and its data.”
The news portal added: “In spite of this cooperation, The Wire’s office at Bhagat Singh Market, in Delhi, was also searched and one of our lawyers physically pushed out by the officers at that site. The Crime Branch party then took away the hard disks from the two computers used by our accounts staff again without mention of any hash value or providing us a cloned copy so that the normal financial work, so central to the day-to-day functioning of a media organisation, can continue uninterrupted.”
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.