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Meta Vs The Wire: Delhi court orders conditional release of electronic devices seized from editors of The Wire in raids last year

The court said that there was no reasonable ground for not releasing the devices to the portal's editors and product-cum-business head Mithun Kidambi.

A Delhi court has ordered the release of the electronic devices seized from the editors of the leftist propaganda website The Wire. The devices were seized following raids at the residence of The Wire founders Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu, and staffer Jahnavi Sen and their office in Delhi in October 2022 after the publication of a series of fake reports by the portal regarding Meta-owned Instagram.

The searches were conducted by the Delhi Police in connection with the FIR filed against the leftist publication for publishing false and malicious Meta reports against BJP leader Amit Malviya.

The court said that there was no reasonable ground for not releasing the devices to the portal’s editors and product-cum-business head Mithun Kidambi. The order was passed by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Siddhartha Malik of Tis Hazari Courts on the applications filed by The Wire editors.

The editors sought the release of the electronic devices which were seized by the investigating officer (IO). The court ordered that the devices be released within 15 days citing that they have been in the IO’s custody for a very long time.

It said that their mirror images are available with the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for any subsequent investigation.

“The argument of the IO that the devices might again be required for some subsequent investigation is speculative in nature based on the presumption of coming to light some new fact at a later stage, which may or may not happen. The devices of the accused persons cannot be kept indefinitely by the IO only on the speculation of an uncertain future event/discovery,” the court said.

The Delhi Police argued that the mirror images of the devices may not be enough for the retrieval of data if some new facts come to light during further probes. The court said that reasonable conditions can be imposed on the editors to ensure that the devices are available to the IO for investigation if required at a later stage.

The court directed the editors to furnish an affidavit before the IO to keep the devices in their own custody. The matter is fixed for filing of compliance report by the IO on 21 October.

The devices are crucial for the investigation because The Wire had published a large number of forged and fabricated documents to frame Amit Malviya and Meta. It is important to know who prepared the fake documents. Although The Wire had claimed that they were conned by Devesh Kumar, one of the contributors of the story, Malviya has named editors of the portal in his complaint.

On 10 October 2022, The Wire published a report with the title ‘If BJP’s Amit Malviya Reports Your Post, Instagram Will Take it Down – No Questions Asked’ authored by Jahnavi Sen, deputy editor, and executive news producer at the portal.

In the report, The Wire claimed that Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT Cell Chief Amit Malviya has such power in Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, that if he reports any post on the platform, it gets removed by the system, no questions asked.

It further claimed that even if the publisher of the post that was removed from Instagram appeals against the removal, it does not get accepted by the system as “Malviya has privileges of being on the XCheck list.”

However, Meta had denied all the allegations, and alert netizens and experts have found glaring holes in Wire’s claims. The portal proceeded to provide ‘proofs’, including screenshots of emails of Meta officials and videos, all of which were found to be forged and fabricated. For several days The Wire tried to defend its stories, despite the fact that even leftist tech experts exposed their lies. However, when two experts including a Microsoft official cited by the portal said that they never verified the Wire’s claims to be true, as claimed by Wire, the portal had to finally take down the story.

However, instead of admitting that they published a fake story, they blamed Devesh Kumar, who had contributed to the reports, and even filed a complaint against him.The Wire also withdrew its other fake Teg Fog stories, also authored by Devesh Kumar.

Following this, Amit Malviya filed a criminal complaint against The Wire and its editorial team for their Meta reports against him, which were suspended by the portal in an implicit admission that they had erred in the reportage. On 29 October last year, Delhi police registered an FIR against The Wire, its founding editors Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu, and Deputy Editor Jahnavi Sen, on the basis of the complaint. Subsequently, the residences of the accused were raided, and seized their electronic devices for investigation.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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