The latest investigation by the EU DisinfoLab has exposed a new set of India’s anti-Pakistan/China influence operations, which builds on two previous investigations that were published in 2019 and 2020.
This investigation delves into non-existent organizations, bloggers, and journalists who are frequently quoted by Asian News International (ANI).
ANI, a prominent Indian news agency, holds a significant position in the country’s information ecosystem by providing content for various well-established media outlets such as The Print and Business Standard. ANI’s articles are also syndicated on digital portals like Yahoo News, making it a major news source for millions of Indians.
It is noteworthy that ANI has previously been accused of presenting the Indian government’s ‘version of truth’ by independent magazine The Caravan. This fact adds to the EU DisinfoLab’s concerns regarding the credibility of ANI’s reporting.
Additionally, the previous EU DisinfoLab investigations uncovered that ANI frequently cited ‘EP Today’ and ‘EU Chronicles,’ two defunct fake media outlets supposedly specializing in EU affairs. In reality, these outlets were created to push anti-Pakistan/China narratives in India.
The investigation has uncovered that,
- ANI has been using quotes from non-existent sources, including a think tank that was dissolved in 2014.
- ANI has also been quoting journalists, bloggers, and supposed geopolitical experts who are not real people.
According to the investigation, fake personas, who identified themselves as James Bond fans, basketball players, and management consultants, were presented as geopolitical experts by ANI.
These fake experts were quoted numerous times on various topics, including China’s ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ and Pakistan’s army doctrines.
Moreover, the investigation found that the think tank previously associated with the Srivastava group, which legally dissolved in 2014, was being quoted by ANI about twice a week.
The think tank’s website falsely mentioned Canadian university professors as conference participants, even creating false quotes attributed to these academics.
This pattern of identity hijacking was previously observed by EU DisinfoLab during its Indian Chronicles investigation.
The investigation noted that fake experts and organizations were used to push narratives critical of countries such as Pakistan and China, which are not considered India’s allies on the global stage.
These so-called “Bad Sources” (BS) have been quoted almost exclusively by news agency ANI, with their content republished across several Indian media outlets.
Due to ANI’s widespread coverage of these reports, few other established media outlets have also given them attention.
This investigation suggests that ANI has failed to uphold the principles of the Charter of Munich, which calls for responsible and ethical reporting.
Charter of Munich states,
- Respect the truth, whatever the consequences, because of the public’s right to know the truth.
- To report only on facts of which he knows the origin; not to suppress essential information nor alter texts and documents.
- To rectify any published information which is found to be inaccurate.
Read the detailed report at EU DisinfoLab.
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