The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday filed a first information report against NewsClick for allegedly violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, The Hindu reported.
A team of agency officials also searched the residence and office of the news organisation’s founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha. They also questioned his partner, the writer Gita Hariharan, The Wire reported.
“This is the fifth agency that is investigating us,” NewsClick said on X. “We are cooperating with the authorities.”
The action comes a day after a Delhi court sent Purkayastha and NewsClick’s human resources head Amit Chakraborty to judicial custody for 10 days in a case filed by the Delhi Police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the country’s anti-terror law.
In 2021, the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing had filed a case against the news outfit, alleging that it had received foreign direct investment from a United States-based company in violation of a law that caps FDI in a digital news website at 26%.
In connection with the case, the Enforcement Directorate had raided NewsClick’s offices and the editor’s home in February 2021.
Another FIR, registered on August 17 and released on October 6 on the order of a Delhi court, accused the news organisation of conspiring to undermine India’s sovereignty by accepting illegal foreign funds over five years.
It alleges that NewsClick received money from a network of nonprofits linked to American businessman Neville Roy Singham to spread Chinese propaganda.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the counsel representing NewsClick argued that the offences in the FIR were not made out against the accused.
“What terrorist act have I committed?” asked advocate Arshdeep Khurana. “How can an act of unbiased journalism be considered terrorism?”
NewsClick in a statement maintained that it does not take directions from Singham about the content published on its website. The news organisation has argued that the case filed against it under the anti-terror law shows the Indian government’s intent to treat criticism as sedition or “anti-national” propaganda.