The head of human resources at NewsClick, Amit Chakraborty, has approached Delhi’s Patiala House court seeking to turn approver – or act as a government witness – in a case against the news website under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Chakraborty reportedly moved the application before Special Judge Hardeep Kaur last week agreeing to disclose information in the case to the Delhi Police in exchange for a pardon.

A magisterial court will record Chakraborty’s statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which deals with the recording of confessions and statements, reported The Times of India.

The police have accused NewsClick of taking funds from China in a “circuitous and camouflaged manner” to disrupt India’s sovereignty.

On December 22, a Delhi court granted the police’s special cell 60 more days to complete its investigation against the news portal.

On October 3, Delhi Police raided several journalists associated with NewsClick and arrested the website’s founder, Prabir Purkayastha, and Chakraborty. They remain in judicial custody.

PTI quoted unidentified police officials as saying that their support for Chakraborty’s application would depend on the statement he gives to the magisterial court.

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 first information report 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.

Meanwhile, Singham alleged that The New York Times “intentionally chose not to publish” his responses to the August 5 article and did disservice to the cause of press freedom.

The American investor termed the newspaper’s article as a “misleading and innuendo-laden hit piece” on him. He said he had given his response to The New York Times on July 22 but the newspaper did not publish his point of view.

On December 19, NewsClick said that the Income Tax Department has “virtually frozen” its bank accounts, restricting it from paying salaries to its staff.

The action by the Income Tax Department appears to be a continuation of the “administrative-legal siege”, the news website said in a statement, highlighting the Enforcement Directorate’s raids against it in February 2021, an Income Tax Department survey in September 2021 and the October 3 crackdown by the Delhi Police Special Cell.