Followed All Aspects of Indian Law, Allegations of Chinese Money Wrong: NewsClick Investor
New Delhi: Worldwide Media Holdings, the investor in NewsClick, clarified that the company followed "all aspects of Indian law" before its investment in the news portal in March 2018.
In a statement to The Hindu, Jason Pfetcher, the sole manager of Worldwide Media Holdings (WMH), called out the New York Times for the latter's 'misleading reporting' that has 'directly contributed' to the Delhi Police action against NewsClick and dozens of journalists who were raided and questioned on October 3. The statement categorically denied the Delhi Police claim of "Chinese government money or Chinese private money in NewsClick."
WMH is owned and operated by the Peoples Support Foundation, Ltd (PSF). The foundation was created in 2017 after the sale of ThoughtWorks, a company founded by Neville Roy Singham. Pfetcher joined Singham at PSF to assist the latter "in his efforts to give away most of the proceeds he received" from the sale of ThoughtWorks.
WMH invested in NewsClick in 2018 after identifying the latter as an organisation consistent with its purposes.
"As part of this process, I personally visited Delhi to hire local counsel, met with NewsClick's editor and other NewsClick staff, toured its facilities, and negotiated with NewsCllick's legal counsel. Following the completion of due diligence, the PSF board determined that it was advisable that WMH invest in NewsClick. That investment was finalised in March 2018," the statement read.
Pfetcher highlighted that the investment opportunity came about due to their relationship with Newsclick editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha. He said that he attended various shareholder meetings of NewsClick; however, as per Pfetcher, the journalist work of NewsClick was never influenced, guided, or directed by PSF or WMH.
NewsClick has been facing a series of actions by various agencies of the Government of India since 2021. These agencies include the Enforcement Directorate, the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police and the Income Tax Department. With its action on October 3, the special cell of Delhi Police has also joined the list. In the latest action, Delhi Police has arrested Purkayastha and Amit Chakravorty, HR head of NewsClick, on the basis of an FIR filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other sections of IPC.
Pfetcher highlighted that since the first raid in 2021, WMH, whenever asked, has "provided the Indian authorities confirmation regarding the provenance of the funds invested in NewsClick by WMH."
"WMH has also provided ample evidence that it is and has always been in good standing with the state of Delaware where it is incorporated (despite false information that WMH was a defunct entity when it invested in NewsClick)," the statement read.
Following that, Pfetcher called out the NYT for its 'slanderous article' that became the basis of the action by Delhi Police.
"Before that article was published, I responded to their questions on behalf of PSF as follows: “PSF has never received any funding, nor taken direction from any foreign individual, organization, political party, or government (or from any of their members or representatives).” The NYT failed to include this categorical denial of foreign funding, and instead left readers to believe that the source of PSF’s funding (or Roy’s for that matter) came from China, rather than from the sale of ThoughtWorks. Their salacious headlines and misleading ‘reporting’ have now directly contributed to the arrest of innocent journalists."
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