WASHINGTON — Indian authorities have arrested Vivek Raghuvanshi, a defense journalist and longtime correspondent for Defense News, and accused him of espionage, according to mid-May reports in the Indian press.
Raghuvanshi’s arrest drew condemnation from Sightline Media Group, the publisher of Defense News and Military Times.
“We call for the immediate release of freelance reporter Vivek Raghuvanshi following his arrest in India,” said Mike Gruss, Sightline’s editor-in-chief. “Vivek has written about the Indian defense industry for Sightline publications for more than three decades and has shown that he is a journalist of integrity and the highest ethical standards.
“Vivek is deeply respected by his colleagues and by his readers in the defense industry, who know they can rely on him for accurate reporting and fairness,” Gruss continued. “Sightline leaders have not seen any evidence to substantiate these charges and repudiate attacks on press freedom.”
Sightline Media Group is an independent, for-profit U.S. media company with correspondents around the world. It is not affiliated with the U.S. government.
The Indian Express reported that India’s Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Raghuvanshi and a former commander in the Indian Navy, Ashish Pathak, on Tuesday night. The Indian Express quoted a CBI spokesperson who said the bureau had conducted multiple searches.
The National Press Club also called on Indian authorities to release Raghuvanshi.
“We were disappointed to hear of the arrest of journalist Vivek Raghuvanshi in India this week,” National Press Club President Eileen O’Reilly and National Press Club Journalism Institute President Gil Klein said in a statement. “The charges against him of working with a foreign intelligence service are completely at odds with his well-established professional profile. Vivek has a solid reputation and the respect of his colleagues.”
Defense News reporter Jen Judson was the 115th president of the National Press Club.
Raghuvanshi’s arrest comes at a time of increasing concern about the state of press freedoms in India. Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists were among the human rights organizations that issued a statement on World Press Freedom Day earlier this month calling on Indian authorities to stop prosecuting journalists and online commentators for criticizing government policies.
The human rights organizations cited multiple cases in recent years in which press freedoms had been suppressed in India. Those included a March 2022 incident in which airport authorities prevented a prominent female Muslim journalist, Rana Ayyub, from flying from Mumbai to London to speak at a journalism gathering. Ayyub is a critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a major political party in India.
The organizations also said three journalists were arrested again by Kashmir authorities in 2022 under a law that allows authorities “to arbitrarily detain people without evidence and thorough judicial review.” At the time of their re-arrests, those three journalists were out on bail on other cases the human rights organizations said were “filed against them in retaliation for their journalism work.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.