NewsClick arrests | U.S. conveys strong support for media

Spokesperson Vedant Patel, however, said the State Department could not comment on the “veracity of the claims” that NewsClick had ties to the Chinese government.

October 04, 2023 06:17 am | Updated October 05, 2023 09:05 am IST - Washington DC

Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson, U.S. State Department. Photo: state.gov

Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson, U.S. State Department. Photo: state.gov

Reacting to the news of arrests of journalists and personnel associated with NewsClick, the U.S. State Department reiterated its support for the media. Responding to a question on the arrests as well as the report (from the New York Times) that alleged NewsClick was part of a Chinese influence operation, Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said the State Department could not comment on the “veracity of the claims” that NewsClick had ties to the Chinese government. On October 4, a spokesperson conveyed U.S. President Joe Biden’s “strong support” for the media.

The U.S. government has discussed with the Indian government and others, “the importance of respecting the human rights of journalists,” including the freedom of expression, Mr. Patel said on October 3 during the daily briefing.

“The U.S. government strongly supports the robust role of the media globally, including social media, in a vibrant and free democracy,” he said.

Editorial | Undeclared Emergency: On the arrests and actions in Newsclick case

The arrests of NewsClick journalists occurred a little over a day after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar left Washington D.C. after an official visit. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his team have, in the past, had rights dialogues with Mr. Jaishankar, including as part of the ‘2+2’ Foreign and Defence Ministers format.

Apart from discussions at the State Department level, President Biden has also discussed the issue of democratic rights and norms with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in private.

“We have urged the Indian government to respect the rights of journalists, including freedom of expression both online and offline,” a spokesperson for Mr. Biden’s National Security Council told The Hindu on Wednesday, adding that the administration was aware of reporting on the media outlet’s alleged links to the Chinese government, but declined to comment “on the veracity of those claims”.

“The President strongly supports the robust role of media globally in a vibrant, free democracy, and has never shied away from addressing concerns about these issues with world leaders,” the spokesperson said.

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