The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday condemned the arrest of Mohammed Zubair, Co-Founder of the fact-checking site AltNews, by the Delhi Police.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 in connection with a tweet from 2018, which allegedly hurt religious sentiments.
The Editors Guild, in a statement, has demanded his immediate release and added that, “This is necessary to buttress the commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the G7 meet in Germany to ensure a resilient democracy by protecting online and offline content.”
The EGI said that Zubair was “called in for questioning by the special cell of Delhi Police in a case from 2020, for which he already had a protection against arrest from the Delhi High Court. However, when Zubair responded to the summons, he was arrested in relation to a criminal investigation initiated earlier in the month, after an anonymous twitter handle alleged that Zubair’s 2018 post was hurting religious sentiments.”
The EGI has also expressed concerns over the sections (Sections 153 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code) under which the AltNews Co-Founder has been arrested and added that over the past few years he and his website have done “some exemplary work” in “identifying fake news and countering disinformation campaigns, in a very objective and factual manner.”
The Editors Guild of India issues a statement condemning the arrest of Muhammad Zubair, co-founder of the fact checking site AltNews, by the Delhi Police on June 27, for a tweet from 2018 and demanding his immediate release.#MohammedZubair #AltNews pic.twitter.com/FQ9FfjIeIJ— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) June 28, 2022
In the statement, EGI said that it is “apparent that AltNews’ alert vigilance was resented by those who use disinformation as a tool to polarise the society and rake nationalist sentiments.”