Journalists’ associations concerned about police raids on The Wire editors

Several journalists’ associations on Tuesday expressed concern over Delhi police raids on the editors of Thread news portal, conducted on the basis of a first information report (FIR) filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson, Amit Malviya, alleging cheating, forgery, defamation and criminal conspiracy.

On Monday, the police raided the premises of ThreadFounding Editors of Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu, Sidharth Bhatia, Deputy Editor Jahnavi Sen and Head of Product and Business Mithun Kidambi in Delhi and Mumbai as part of a series of reports on the portal and removed later.

In a joint statement, the Press Club of India, Delhi Union of Journalists, Press Association, Working News Cameraman Association, Indian Journalists Union, DIGIPUB News India Foundation and Kerala Union of Working Journalists said digital devices people named in the FIR had been seized. . “As far as we know, this was done without providing a hash value [a unique numerical value used to ensure the integrity of a device and its data] according to procedure,” they said.

The organizations said the FIR relates to reports published in Thread about a post that was “removed by a social media intermediary”. “The complaints were filed after Thread retracted his articles and issued an apology to his readers, with the promise that rigorous editorial processes involving technical evidence would now be followed. ThreadThe PCI ombudsman also assured readers that the failures would be looked into very seriously,” the statement released by PCI reads.

“It is surprising that even after the news portal issued a detailed retraction for its editorial misconduct, putting the same in the public domain, the Delhi Police, based on the BJP leader’s complaint which includes a multitude of charges…, registered an FIR and chose to pursue the investigation with unusual speed,” he said.

“Chilling effect on the media”

“The PCI is of the view that while the media has a responsibility to report and should be responsible to report at all times, the manner in which the Delhi Police acted on the complaint of a BJP spokesperson smacks of pure vendetta . Such actions have a chilling effect on the rest of the media and also impact freedom of expression,” the statement read.

Earlier, DIGIPUB said the raids mainly serve to criminalize and create a chilling effect on the journalism profession in India. “While any fair investigation must respect the rule of law, it cannot become a tool to further worsen the already difficult state of journalism in India, which has steadily declined in global media freedom indices and of democracy. We have witnessed many recent cases where criminal prosecution and police harassment have intimidated and prevented journalists from doing their job,” he said.

Thread said: “All five cooperated and handed over the wanted devices…we also logged our demand for the hash value of the seized phones, computers and iPads and for cloned copies of the seized devices to be kept in a safe place. neutral. ”

“Despite this cooperation, ThreadThe office of Bhagat Singh Market in Delhi was also raided and one of our lawyers physically expelled by the officers of this site…” he said.