A day after arresting Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking website AltNews, over a 2018 tweet, officers at the Delhi Police’s Cyber Crime Unit say they plan to look into his bank transactions and laptop.
On Monday, Zubair was called to the unit’s Dwarka office in connection with a 2020 POCSO case in which he had been granted protection from arrest by the High Court. While being questioned, police served him another notice to join a separate probe related to his tweet, and eventually arrested him.
On Tuesday, DCP (Cyber Crime) KPS Malhotra claimed, “We have found transactions over Rs 50 lakh in Zubair’s account. These were made in the last three months. We don’t know the source yet but they could be donations from questionable organisations. We are looking into this.”
AltNews co-founder Pratik Sinha denied the police claim: “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 and not any individuals. The bank statement of Zubair’s personal account of which I have a copy debunks this falsehood.”
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Zubair’s counsel also said the organisation receives money through open-source crowdfunding. “Everything is in the public domain. The police are making false allegations,” said Kawalpreet Kaur.
On the tweet by Zubair being a still from a movie, DCP Malhotra said, “We are well aware that the tweet in question is a still from a movie. But we acted as per the law. The quote-tweets and further amplification of his tweet were creating disharmony and unrest. We are investigating the matter and will question him. On Monday, he didn’t cooperate during questioning. This is something even the court observed and granted police remand.”
Kaur meanwhile said: “Zubair had told the police that his father-in-law wasn’t feeling well. But the police pushed him to come from Bangalore to Delhi citing ‘urgency’ in the (POCSO) case. They told Zubair it was a sensitive matter and that the other person (complainant) in the case would also be there. We later found that the other person never showed up. During questioning, another notice was served. He was asked questions and they asked for his phone. We had no time to process it. The FIR in the tweet case was lodged on June 20. Why didn’t the police send notice before the questioning?”
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