Rana Ayyub stopped from flying to London; ICJ accuses Indian authorities of legally harassing her
New Delhi, Mar 30: Journalist Rana Ayyub was stopped by authorities from flying to the UK on Tuesday in connection with a money laundering case, the investigation by the Enforcement Directorate of which is underway.
The journalist, who had planned to travel to London to deliver a keynote speech on Indian democracy, received the message in her inbox just after she was stopped at the airport. "I was stopped today at Mumbai immigration from travelling to deliver this address and onwards to International Journalism Festival to deliver the keynote speech on Indian democracy. I had made this announcement public over weeks, yet the ED (Enforcement Directorate) summon very curiously arrived in my inbox after I was stopped," Ms Ayyub tweeted.
She further said, "All these events with @julieposetti @DoughtyStIntl @journalismfest 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?"
The International Center for Journalists extended its support to Rana Ayyub, accusing the Indian authorities of legally harassing her. "ICFJ stands with @RanaAyyub and we reiterate our demand for the Indian authorities to end their legal and digital harassment campaign against the multi-award-winning @washingtonpost journalist. #LetRanaFly #WeStandWithRana," it wrote on its official Twitter handle.
The ED has summoned her for questioning in the money laundering case on April 1.
The Enforcement Directorate had earlier attached over ₹1.77 crore worth bank deposits of Ayyub in connection with the money laundering probe against her linked to alleged irregularities in charitable funds raised from public donors, agency sources said on Thursday.
The money laundering case against Ayyub was filed after taking cognisance of a September, 2021 FIR of Ghaziabad Police (Uttar Pradesh) related to alleged irregularities in donor funds of over ₹2.69 crore raised by her through an online crowd funding platform called 'Ketto', PTI reported.
The police lodged the case on a complaint made by Vikas Sankrityayan, founder of an NGO called "Hindu IT Cell" and a resident of Indirapuram in Ghaziabad. Ayyub had then stated that the "entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused", the report added.
According to the FIR, the funds were raised as part of three campaigns: funds for slum dwellers and farmers during April-May 2020; relief work for Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra during June-September 2020; and help for COVID-19 impacted people in India during May-June 2021.
"Funds totalling ₹2,69,44,680 were raised on Ketto by Rana Ayyub. These funds were withdrawn in the bank accounts of her sister and father," the agency said.