Global press bodies, journos join wave of solidarity with Rana Ayyub after she prevented from leaving India

International press freedom bodies and several journalists have expressed their solidarity with award winning journalist Rana Ayyub after she was prevented from flying to Europe to speak about intimidation of journalists and rights in India.

Rana Ayyub on Tuesday was stopped by authorities at Mumbai airport from boarding a flight to London. Ayyub was stopped from travelling abroad because the Enforcement Directorate has issued a lookout notice for her.

Ayyub had an event on 1 April in London. On the same day, she was to speak at The Guardian’s office at the invitation of the newspaper’s editor Katharine Viner. Then on 6 April and 7, she was to be in Italy to attend International Journalism Festival.

International Center for Journalists said that it is alarmed at the blatant legal harassment of Rana Ayyub by Indian authorities.

The global body further demanded India’s Union government “end its investigation and inflammation of attacks on Rana Ayyub which risk turning the digital lynch mob into a murderous horde.”

The International Press Institute also joins the wave of solidarity with Rana Ayyub. “The prominent journalist and critic of Modi’s govt has been detained when she was to board her flight to London. We urge #India to #LetRanaFly to Europe where she is scheduled to speak on online harassment at several intl events,” IPI tweeted.

Mumbai Press Club said they “unequivocally condemn the ham handed way in which Rana Ayyub was prevented from flying to London to speak on the intimidation of journalists in India by a last-minute summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate.” “This amounts to harassment of journalists,” they said.

“The Indian government may wish to reflect on the wisdom of interfering with a journalist giving an international keynote on interference with the media in India,” read a tweet by James Ball, global editor of The Bureau and author.

“This is unconscionable. And it will ultimately fail in its purpose. Rana Ayyub’s message can’t be stopped at the border, and her warnings about press freedom in India will if anything be amplified by the effort to bar her person,” said Nicholas Dawes, executive director of The City.

Veteran Indian journalist and The Wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan tweeted: “Disgusting harassment that proves the point about the state of Indian democracy that the world is slowly waking up to.”

“All these events 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,” she said.

Last month, media reports had said that the Enforcement Directorate has attached over Rs 1.77-crore worth of Ayyub’s bank deposits in connection with a “money-laundering investigation” after she started fund-raising campaign to provide food and other relief to people struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rana Ayyub had described the allegations as “preposterous, wholly mala fide and belied by record.”