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After ED, EoW, IT, now CBI Searches NewsClick Office, Alleges FCRA Violation

This is the fifth agency that is investigating us. We are cooperating with the authorities, said the news portal.

New Delhi:  The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated fresh legal action against the news portal NewsClick, accusing it of violating foreign funding regulations under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). This development follows a series of investigations and searches carried out by law enforcement agencies in relation to the news website.

The CBI lodged the First Information Report (FIR) against “a private company based in Delhi & Others, including its Director”, on Wednesday, October 11, 2023. 

The news portal posted a statement on microblogging site (formerly known as Twitter), saying, “The CBI is currently conducting search and seizure operations at the NewsClick office and the residence of our Editor-in-Chief, Prabir Purkayastha. This is the fifth agency that is investigating us. We are cooperating with the authorities.” 

A team of CBI officials executed search operations on Wednesday at two locations – the residence and office – of Prabir Purkayastha, the founder and editor-in-chief of NewsClick on Wednesday morning.  

The ED, in February 2021, had carried out searches at NewsClick's premises, investigating foreign remittances allegedly received by the news portal between 2018 and 2021. The agency had previously claimed that NewsClick had received illegal funding from China, further channelled through the United States. 

The Delhi Police Special Cell conducted a series of searches at over 50 locations associated with NewsClick, its employees, and contributors the previous week. This intense scrutiny culminated in the arrest of Amit Chakravarty, the head of NewsClick's human resources department and Purkayastha under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

NewsClick has vehemently denied the allegations levied against it by the CBI and other agencies. In a statement, the news portal asserted that it "does not publish any news or information at the behest of any Chinese entity or authority, directly or indirectly" and that it "does not propagate Chinese propaganda on its website."

In a broader international context, an earlier investigation by the New York Times had alleged that NewsClick, among other media organisations, had received funding from a network tied to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for the alleged purpose of promoting Chinese propaganda. The report, however, said there was no proof of the funding.

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