Wall Street Journal Ad An Attack On Indian Sovereignty, Fumes Govt

New Delhi: The Indian government has made no bones about its displeasure on a Wall Street Journal advertisement, published by an American media organization, calling for sanctions against Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Supreme Court judges, the Enforcement Directorate and other defendants in the Devas-Antrix case.

In a strong reaction, the government described the ad as an “attack on Indian sovereignty.”

The ad first appeared in the newspaper on October 13 at a time when Sitharaman is on an important US trip, apparently to raise awareness of the case on behalf of Devas co-founder Ramachandra Vishwanathan.

An American citizen, Vishwanathan has moved a petition in the US State Department to impose ‘Magnitsky Act’ sanctions on the 11 Indian government officials for a ‘flawed’ investigation, an ‘unfair’ trial and government actions declaring him a ‘criminal’ and seizing his property.

Bengaluru-based satellite company Devas Multimedia had signed a failed deal in 2005 with Antrix Corporation, the government-owned commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), for a 12-year lease of 90% transponder space on two satellites — G-SAT6 and G-SAT6A – which were yet to be launched.

Since then, Devas Multimedia has been pursuing cases in several jurisdictions globally to enforce seizure of Indian government’s properties, to enforce a $1.3 billion arbitral award over a cancelled satellite deal.

The Delhi High Court had overturned the $1.3 billion (including interest) arbitration ruling in Devas Multimedia’s favour.

Referring to the ad as “shockingly filthy”, a senior Central government official said it attacked India and its administration.

“Shameful weaponisation of American media by fraudsters. This shockingly vile ad targeting #India and its Government appeared in @WSJ. Do you know who is behind this and similar ads? This ad campaign is being run by fugitive Ramachandra Vishwanathan, who was the CEO of Devas,” tweeted Kanchan Gupta, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, adding that it’s not only an anti-Modi government movement but also an effort to undermine the judiciary.

Gupta further said that Vishwanathan, a “designated fugitive economic criminal” accused of corruption, was the one to have the advertisement published.

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