The United States has reacted to the recent development in India, in which the houses of scores of senior journalists who were associated with the news website were raided following a report published in American English daily.
While addressing a press conference, State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel, said that the Biden administration had raised concerns about press freedom earlier with India and with other countries around the world.
However, he refrained from commenting on the recent development by saying, "The United States has seen reports about the alleged ties of an Indian media outlet, which was raided by officials a day earlier, with China but cannot comment on the veracity of the claims".
"We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian government, and with countries around the world, through our diplomatic engagements that are at the core of our bilateral relationship," he added.
"We have urged the Indian government and have done so not just with India, but other countries as well, about the importance of respecting the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression both online and offline, he said. I don't have additional information though, about this particular circumstance or any of the underlying issues that may or may not be related to this outlet, however, Patel added.
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Earlier in August, The New York Times, in an investigated story, reported about the raided Indian media outlet receiving funds from an Indian American having ties to Chinese propaganda interests.
A Times investigation had linked the site to a pro-China network, the daily reported.
Earlier today, Delhi Police sources said the raids, which started early Tuesday morning, were based on a case registered in August under UAPA and other sections of IPC, including Section 153A (promoting enmity between two groups), 120B (criminal conspiracy).
The police recovered the dump data from the laptops and mobile phones of some journalists of NewsClick. Earlier, the central probe agency Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also conducted raids regarding the funding of NewsClick.
In 2021, the Economic Offenses Wing of Delhi Police was the first to file a case regarding illegal funding against NewsClick. The company had allegedly received suspicious funding through Chinese companies. The ED registered a case and started an investigation into the funding case.
However, the High Court had at that time given relief to the promoters of NewsClick from arrest.
Editors Guild of India condemns raids
Various organisations, including the Editors Guild of India (EGI), condemned the Delhi Police raids on NewsClick stating that they are deeply concerned about the raids at the residences of senior journalists, dubbing them an attempt to "muzzle the media".
"We remind the government of the importance of an independent media in a functioning democracy and urge it to ensure that the fourth pillar is respected, nurtured and protected," the guild said.
"While we recognise that the law must take its course if actual offences are involved, the due process has to be followed. The investigation of specific offences must not create a general atmosphere of intimidation under the shadow of draconian laws, or impinge on the freedom of expression and the raising of dissenting and critical voices," it added.