NewsClick’s editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha on Monday told the Delhi High Court that the news website has not received even a penny of funding from China, Bar and Bench reported.

The court was hearing a petition by Purkayastha and the news website’s human resources head Amit Chakraborty challenging their arrest under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the country’s anti-terror law. Justice Tushar Rao Gedela reserved the order.

Appearing for Purkayastha, senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that the allegations in the police’s first information report about the website having received Chinese funding were false. “All these things mentioned are false,” he said. “Not a penny has come from China.”

Sibal argued that the police failed to inform the NewsClick editor-in-chief about the grounds for his arrest – neither when he was arrested, nor when he was remanded to police custody.

Sibal also claimed that there had been overwriting in the remand records, and that it was obvious that some material had been added to it.

Sibal also told the court that only Purkayastha’s legal aid counsel was present when he was remanded to police custody.

“The order says legal aid counsel was present,” Sibal said. “I was not informed though. As per the Delhi High Court rules, if the accused is not present, the court must pass an order of temporary remand.”

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that Purkayastha was informed about the grounds for his arrest, Live Law reported.

Mehta also alleged that the accused persons tried to compromise with the integrity and stability of the nation. He claimed that NewsClick referred to Arunachal Pradesh as the “northern border of Myanmar” – an expression used by China.

The case

In the FIR registered on August 17, the police accused NewsClick of taking funds from China in a “circuitous and camouflaged manner” to disrupt India’s sovereignty.

The case was registered after The New York Times alleged in an August 5 report that the Indian news website had received money from American businessman Neville Roy Singham, who worked closely with the “Chinese government media machine” to spread its propaganda. The FIR describes Singham as an active member of the propaganda department of the Communist Party of China.

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On Friday, NewsClick said that the “absurd nature” of the allegations shows that the proceedings are nothing but an attempt to muzzle the free press.

“As stated in previous NewsClick statements, NewsClick has not received any funding or instructions from China or Chinese entities,” it said. “Further, NewsClick has never committed or sought to encourage violence, secession or any illegal act in any manner whatsoever. A perusal of NewsClick’s coverage, which is freely available online, should be sufficient to indicate the veracity of NewsClick’s claims.”