ED issues fresh summons to Singham in Newsclick case

NEW DELHI: India’s already strained ties could be further strained after China’s Enforcement Directorate issued a summons to Shanghai-based Neville Roy Singham to join the probe into alleged funding to media portal NewsClick. He is obstructing the summons.

An American citizen of Cuban-Sri Lankan descent, Singham has based himself in Shanghai.

After Chinese authorities refused to serve the summons issued to Singham last year, the ED has issued fresh summons and sent it through the Ministry of External Affairs to ask him to record his statement on allegations of running a Chinese influence operation. So that there can be a demand to be present here. in India.

A letter rogatory was issued against tech millionaire Singham and sent to Chinese authorities last month, sources said, after a similar request to him last year to join the investigation went unheeded.

The New York Times reported earlier this year that Singham and his activist wife are also being investigated by US agencies for promoting Beijing’s agenda – charges he has denied.

Meanwhile, the ED has decided to conduct custodial interrogation of NewsClick promoter Prabir Purkayastha, who is currently in judicial custody after he was arrested by Delhi Police on charges of alleged anti-India activities. Purkayastha and NewsClick’s HR head Amit Chakraborty were arrested on October 3 under the anti-terrorism law UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) for running Chinese propaganda on the news portal.

Sources said the agency will first interrogate Purkayastha in judicial custody to deny him any links with the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) or its propaganda wing. Before he was arrested by Delhi Police, the ED had questioned Purkayastha about his links with Worldwide Media Holdings LLC, USA, which pumped Rs 9.6 crore into NewsClick in April 2018, just three months after the news portal was incorporated Were.

According to company filings as of March 2019, investment by Worldwide Media Holdings, the second largest stakeholder in Newsclick after Purkayastha, has been its only business activity.

The ED has claimed that huge funds were allegedly sent to PPK NewsClick Studios by entities controlled by Singham to promote Chinese propaganda on Belt and Road Initiative projects in developing countries and the response to the pandemic.

NewsClick has denied this allegation publicly and in the courts. After preliminary investigation against Newsclick and Purkayastha, the ED had seized their flat in Saket, Delhi, worth over Rs 4.5 crore and Rs 41 lakh in their bank accounts.

Apart from Worldwide Media Holdings, another major investor in Newsclick is Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.