Prominent Journalist, Government Critic Barred from Leaving India

Indian immigration officials prevented Rana Ayyub, a prominent journalist and government critic, from leaving the country to speak about intimidation of journalists at European events.

Authorities stopped Ayyub from boarding her flight to Europe at an airport in the western city of Mumbai because of a recently opened money laundering investigation against her, the journalist wrote on Twitter.

Ayyub, 37, was due to take a flight to London on March 29 to speak about the intimidation of journalists at an event by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), then to Italy to speak about Indian Democracy at the Journalism Fest.

Ayyub said she had previously publicized her planned trips on her social media, but the Indian Enforcement Directorate issued summons one hour before her flight departure.

According to local media reports, the Enforcement Directorate told her to appear at its offices on April 21 in connection with money laundering allegations.

The Enforcement Directorate has accused Ayyub of misusing COVID-19 funds, which she has denied doing.

ICFJ called for “the blatant legal harassment” of Ayyub to stop.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also called for Indian authorities to “immediately cease all forms of harassment and intimidation against Ayyub.”

Ayyub, a columnist for The Washington Post, has faced harassment from far-right Hindu groups, including rape threats, because of her reporting on issues that include the marginalization of minority Muslims in India.

Ayyub wrote a book titled, “Gujarat Files” on the anti-Muslim program in 2022 and it accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being complicit in the atrocity when he was a state premier at the time.

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