Rana Ayyub stopped at Mumbai airport on ED request, told to join the probe
NEW DELHI: Journalist Rana Ayyub was on Tuesday stopped at Mumbai international airport by immigration authorities while she was leaving for London.
People familiar with the development said Rana Ayyub was detained on the basis of a look out circular (LOC) issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is investigating her for laundering donations raised by her through online crowd funding platform – Ketto – during Covid-19 pandemic.
A senior ED official, requesting anonymity, said a LOC was issued against her as he failed to comply with a summon issued to her about a few weeks back.
After she was stopped by the immigration authorities, ED was informed and a preliminary questioning was done by central anti-money laundering agency officers at the airport itself, said this officer.
She has been asked to join the investigation at ED office on April 1, he said.
“I was stopped today at the Indian immigration while I was about to board my flight to London to deliver my speech on the intimidation of journalists with @ICFJ. I was to travel to Italy right after to deliver the keynote address at the @journalismfest on the Indian democracy,” Rana Ayyub tweeted after she was detained.
She further said in her tweet that – “All these events have been planned and publicised all over my social media for weeks. Yet, curiously the Enforcement directorate summon arrived in my mail much after I was stopped at the immigration. What do you fear?”
In February, ED attached funds worth ₹1.77 crore in Ayyub’s bank accounts, alleging that donations were laundered by her and used for personal expenses.
The agency said last month Rana Ayyub not only allegedly prepared fake bills in the name of some entities to claim expenses on relief work but also created a fixed deposit of ₹50 lakh from the funds raised on the online platform.
A probe was launched against her in September last year based on a First Information Report (FIR) by the Ghaziabad police, in which the complainant – Vikas Sankrityayan had accused her of illegally acquiring public money.
It was claimed in the UP police FIR that Rana Ayyub raised funds for three campaigns – first for slum dwellers and farmers, relief work for Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra and help for Covid-19 impacted people in India between April 2020 and June 2021 without any kind of approval certificate, registration from the government which is required as per Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
At the time of registration of case, Ayyub claimed the allegations of misappropriation of funds against her were malicious and baseless.