New Delhi: BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP and Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani Sunday attacked veteran journalist Pranjoy Guha Thakurta, who is under the Enforcement Directorate’s scanner for his alleged transactions with Newsclick.
Last week, a New York Times report claimed that Newsclick was part of a global network that received funding from Neville Roy Singham, who allegedly works closely with the Chinese government media machine.
The ED, as part of its criminal investigation against NewsClick, its promoters and others, is probing alleged fraudulent foreign funds infusion of more than Rs 86 crore from entities linked to Singham into its holding company (PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd.) and is expected to file a charge sheet in this case soon.
The federal financial investigation agency is also probing the alleged transfer of funds of about Rs 40 lakh from NewsClick to the family members of activist Teesta Setalvad, transfer of about Rs 72 lakh to journalist and author Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, some employees of NewsClick and few independent media persons over a period of time.
It had found that NewsClick also allegedly paid Rs 17.08 lakh as “salary” to jailed activist Gautam Navlakha, Rs 97.32 lakh to Bappaditya Sinha, a shareholder in NewsClick and a member of the IT cell of the CPI(M) over an unspecified period.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), according to the sources, is investigating the “end use” of these funds.
“Since then Guha has been a petitioner in the Supreme Court claiming his phone had been hacked by Pegasus spyware (not established), written articles against the Adani group (he is the only Indian journalist referred to in Hindenburg) and as recently as Dec 2022 coauthored a book on Rafael called “Flying Lies” (3 years after the SC exhaustively scrutinised the deal and judged it to be totally overboard),” Jethmalani said.
“Guha who seems to have been a frequent contributor to the news portal now claims he was paid the money as a consultant to Newsclick! While he hasn’t put any consultancy agreement in the public domain to back his claims, ED will no doubt get to the bottom of the matter. In 2009 – long before his alleged consultancy- Guha authored a book titled “Media Ethics”. Wonder whether he’s measured up to his own standards?” Jethmalani asked.
A prominent name in #Newsclick’s paylist is journalist/author #ParanjoyGuhaThakurta. He has received payoffs since 2018 amounting to at least Rs72 lakhs. Since then Guha has been a petitioner in the #SupremeCourt claiming his phone had been hacked by #Pegasus spyware (not…
— Mahesh Jethmalani (@JethmalaniM) August 13, 2023
The premises of NewsClick and its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha were raided by the Enforcement Directorate in September, 2021. It, last year, attached a flat worth Rs 4.52 crore, located in south Delhi’s Saket area, linked to Purkayastha apart from fixed deposits worth Rs 41 lakh as part of the investigation.
After the NYT article, Purkayastha issued a statement on his portal denying the charges.