Journalist Rana Ayyub was stopped at Mumbai airport from boarding a flight to London on Tuesday, 29 March, as she is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to an alleged money laundering case.
Ayyub was flying to London to speak at the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ).
She said that she was stopped despite making a public announcement regarding her appearance at the ICFJ weeks in advance, and alleged that the ED's summon arrived in her inbox only after she was stopped from boarding her flight.
"I was stopped today at Mumbai immigration from travelling to deliver this address & onwards to @journalismfest to deliver d (the) keynote speech on Indian democracy. I had made this announcement public over weeks, yet the ED summon very curiously arrived in my inbox after I was stopped," Ayyub tweeted.
The ICFJ also put out a tweet condemning the incident, and said that it was "alarmed at the blatant legal harassment" of Ayyub.
Case Against Ayyub
The case against Ayyub, registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the Ghaziabad Police, is based on an FIR from September 2021, which alleges irregularities in her funds.
It alludes to three crowdfunding campaigns initiated by the journalist between April 2020-June 2021, facilitated by the virtual platform Ketto.
"She allegedly didn't utilise donations meant for three campaigns for right purpose. Parts of donations were allegedly used for personal expenses," an ED official was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Ayyub, however, has rejected all the allegations against her.
Her statement shared via Twitter says, “In my three public campaigns undertaken on Ketto, I had raised a total of Rs 2,69,44,679 (about 26.9 million). I have provided all bills and invoices for the relief work undertaken by me, which is to the tune of Rs 40 lakh.”
Ayyub also said that she donated Rs 74.50 lakh to the Maharashtra Chief Minister Relief Fund (CMRF) and to the PM-CARES Fund for relief work across India after a public-funded hospital in New Delhi refused her donation of a cheque of Rs 90 lakh.