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इंडियन आवाज़     27 Nov 2022 08:20:18      انڈین آواز

DIGIPUB India condemns Delhi police action on The Wire editors

The Wire, its founder Siddharth Varadarajan, its founder editors Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu and its deputy editor and executive news producer Jahnavi Sen have been named in the FIR which has been registered under Sections 420, 468, 469, 471, 500 r/w 120B and 34 IPC

WEB DESK

DIGIPUB India, a collective of independent digital news portals, has condemned Delhi Police raids on the homes of the editors of The Wire (a member of DIGIPUB) based on a criminal defamation complaint filed by BJP’s IT cell chief, Amit Malviya.

“A journalist or a media organisation that publishes a false report ought to be held accountable by its peers and civil society. But for the police carry out immediate and arbitrary search of editors’ homes, based entirely on a private complaint of defamation filed by a spokesperson of the ruling party smack of malafide intentions,” said a statement issued by the collective, of which eleven organisations including the Wire, NewsClick are also among the founding members along with 11 organisaions such as News Minute, Newslaundry, Article 14, Scroll, AltNews also among others.

DigipubIndia (@DIGIPUB News India Foundation) Tweeted: DIGIPUB’s statement on police searches on the homes of the editors and a reporter of @thewire_in

The statement also expressed serious concern over the danger of these searches “being used as an excuse to seize and duplicate confidential and sensitive data held by The Wire.”

The association also expressed concerns that the investigation could become “a tool to further worsen the already fraught state of journalism in India”.

On Monday the homes of the founding editors of news website The Wire, Siddharth Vardarajan and MK Venu, were searched by the crime branch of the Delhi Police. Various electronic devices were examined.

However, no arrests have been made so far, the Delhi Police said.

This comes a day after an FIR was filed against The Wire based on a complaint lodged by the BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya over their now withdrawn Meta reports. Malviya filed the complaint days after vowing action against the portal over its report that he enjoyed special privileges that enabled him to take down posts on Meta-owned Instagram.

In his complaint, Amit Malviya alleged that The Wire forged documents to malign and tarnish his reputation. He also urged the police to register an FIR against The Wire’s founding editors Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, MK Venu and Deputy Editor Jahnavi Sen for “cheating, forgery, harming reputation”.

On October 6, 2022, The Wire published a report claiming that Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, had removed an Instagram post within a few minutes of it being uploaded by a private account, namely “Cringearchivist”. The report claimed that Amit Malviya, who is the IT cell chief of the BJP, had certain privileges to take down posts from Meta-owned Instagram.

The reports soon sparked a row, with questions being raised over the report’s authenticity. Questions are also being raised over the credibility of the sources cited by The Wire.

The news website initially stood by its report, with Siddharth Varadarajan stating that the “stories came from multiple Meta sources – whom we know, have met and verified”.

On October 11, 2022, Meta’s Communication Head, Andy Stone, categorically denied the claims in the report and said that the documents were “fabricated”.

The Wire was forced to retract the stories and issue an apology. “To have rushed to publish a story we believed was reliable without having the associated technical evidence vetted independently is a failure of which we cannot permit repetition,” it stated.

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