Mohammed Zubair arrest: Donations to Alt News also being probed, say police
A day after Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking site Alt News, was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell, investigators said they were looking into donations to the website as some of these were being made from “across the border”
New Delhi: A day after Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking site Alt News, was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell, investigators said they were looking into donations to the website as some of these were being made from “across the border”.
A senior police officer said it was found that ₹50 lakh was deposited in the website’s account in the last three months. Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha tweeted that it was “all lies” while sharing a screenshot of a news report mentioning the figure. “Absolutely lies. Police is linking donations received by Alt News to Zubair. All the money that Alt News receives goes to the organisation’s bank account and not any individuals. The bank statement of Zubair’s personal account of which I have a copy debunks this falsehood,” he wrote.
The officer said they’re investigating “who is making the donations and if they’re from across the border”. “We’ll also see if the donations are not being used to convert black money into white,” the officer said. Responding to police claims, Zubair’s lawyer Kawalpreet Kaur said, “Everyone knows that Alt News runs on donations. It’s not hidden from anyone. It’s public knowledge that Alt News runs on crowdfunding and if people are contributing, then how is it illegal,” she questioned.
The officer, investigating the case, said the second part of the investigation is to “bust the social media brigade which Zubair has”. “It appears that his tweets are planned and pushed in a concerted manner. They are amplified by an army of people. If these are bots then who is paying these bots. We are digging deep into this network that amplifies his tweets,” the officer said.
Police said Zubair was not cooperating with the investigation and refused to hand over his electronic devices and had formatted his phone. His lawyer Kaur said Zubair had lost his phone earlier and police were aware of that. “The mobile phone he has is a new one and police are aware of aware of the matter,” she said.
Deputy commissioner of police (Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations) KPS Malhotra whose team is investigating the case said what formed the grounds for Zubair’s arrest was his being evasive on two aspects: his gadget was formatted and the intention as he wasn’t cooperating with the investigation.