| Neville Roy Singham | MR Online Neville Roy Singham

NYT has done great disservice to press freedom: Roy Singham on NewsClick funding row

Originally published: NewsClick.in on October 17, 2023 by NewsClick Report (more by NewsClick.in)  | (Posted Oct 18, 2023)

American millionaire Neville Roy Singham, who has been named as an accused in the Delhi Police Special Cell FIR against news portal NewsClick, under the draconian anti-terror law UAPA, has refuted all allegations made against him, based on a “misleading” and “innuendo-laden” article on August 5 published in The New York Times. The Delhi Police “secretly” filed the FIR on August 17, after which widespread raids were carried out in the NewsClick office, and residences of close to 80 persons, including about 50 journalists, contributors and freelancers. NewsClick’s founder Prabir Purkayastha and Human Resources head Amit Chakraborty have been arrested.

In a four-page statement published in The Hindu, Singham said the “language used in the FIR strongly suggests that its claims were influenced by misinformation from the NYT article.”

The NYT  intentionally chose not to publish all the factual rebuttals that I provided to them on July 22, 2023, prior to their publication date. The NYT has done a great disservice to the cause of press freedom. For this reason, I have decided to publicly address some of these points that I raised to, and were ignored by, the NYT. I categorically deny and repudiate all claims of illegality and impropriety and wish to set the record straight.

In his rebuttal of the allegations, including on his taking “instructions” and funds from the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China, the Sri Lankan origin businessman said:

I do not work for, nor take instruction from, nor receive funding from the Propaganda Department or any division of the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China, as the FIR claims and is suggested in the NYT article. In fact, I do not take orders from any government or political party in the world.

Rejecting the allegation of fraudulent infusion of funds through a “complex web of several entities” as mentioned in the FIR and in the NYT article, he said:

Having run a multinational company [ThoughtWorks] for many years, I learned the vital importance of carefully following the laws of all the countries in which we conducted business. My record as chairman speaks for itself in this period.

On the FIR alleging undermining India’s territorial integrity, Singham said:

In 2020, I was presented with an opportunity to sponsor a free and open-source software project that would allow anyone to create their own equal-area projection maps. While there are hundreds of ongoing international border disputes, including for example, between Canada and the United States, the goal was always to allow citizens of each country to produce maps that are consistent with its own laws and reflect their sovereign counties’ national interests.

Singham further stated that he was “shocked” to see the “absurd attempt” to connect him to the Chinese telecom companies, Xiaomi and Vivo in the FIR. “I have no knowledge of their activities in India. I have never had contact with , directly or indirectly received funding from, nor worked on behalf of these companies,” he said.

Read the full statement published in The Hindu here.

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