A Delhi court on Tuesday sent NewsClick’s editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and human resources head Amit Chakraborty to judicial custody for 10 days, PTI reported.

Purkayastha and Chakraborty were arrested on October 3 and booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the country’s anti-terror law. On the same day, the police had raided the homes of 46 journalists associated with NewsClick.

On Tuesday, Purkayastha’s counsel Arshdeep Khurana asserted that no prima facie case was made out against his client.

“What terrorist act have I [Purkayastha] committed?” the counsel asked. “How can I as a journalist commit such an act? What is the allegation in the FIR? That we have done critical reporting of [government’s] Covid policy and farmers’ protest. Is that terrorism?”

Khurana said there was no allegation that Purkayastha had used criminal force or caused the death of a public functionary, according to Bar and Bench.

“There is no allegation that I used bombs, dynamite or any other explosive substance,” he said. “There is no act of detention kidnapping or abduction...So, I ask myself how by having journalism as a profession, by reporting, I can commit any of these offences.”

Khurana said that a journalist could not be punished for criticising the government.

However, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava, representing the Delhi Police, argued that Purkayastha’s purpose was not to criticise the government, but to spread the propaganda “of a country that is inimical to us”.

The police have 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.

On October 6, 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.”