Indian News Agency Propagates False Narratives Against Pakistan, China

EU DisinfoLab discovered in a report called "Bad Sources (BS)" that looked into anti-Pakistan and anti-China influence operations

Asian News International (ANI), a well-known Indian “news” agency, continues to spread fake stories using fake sources and “fake experts” to attack rivals, especially China and Pakistan, according to a report by EU DisinfoLab.

EU DisinfoLab made the discovery in a report called “Bad Sources (BS)” that looked into anti-Pakistan and anti-China influence operations as a follow-up to two other ANI reveals.

“Two previous EU DisinfoLab investigations showed that ANI often used quotes from the now-defunct “EP Today” and “EU Chronicles,” which claimed to be about EU affairs but were actually made to spread anti-Pakistan/anti-China propaganda in India,” the Brussels-based NGO’s report said.

The latest investigation found that the Indian wire service, which gives news to millions of Indians, has been quoting a think tank that was shut down in 2014 and no longer exists.

Also, the news agency has been using quotes from people who don’t exist, such as a journalist, a few bloggers, and so-called geopolitical experts.

EU DisinfoLab said that ANI now quotes the Canadian IFFRAS think tank about twice a week, even though it used to be linked to the Srivastava group and was legally broken up in 2014.

It went on to say that the think tank’s website “falsely lists real Canadian university professors as attendees of a conference they never went to and even makes up fake quotes from these academics.”

The EU DisinfoLab tried for a “considerable amount of time” to get in touch with and find any sign of the people ANI said existed. The so-called “experts” were published again in a number of Indian media outlets, adding to the propaganda loop and putting forward stories that become more and more true over time.

Nearly “entirely” about criticizing Pakistan and China, the stories that the fake people and groups spread were about them.

The fake stories were “almost exclusively quoted by ANI and then republished by a number of Indian media outlets,” the report said.

In July 2021, a news article with the title “European Parliament to pull Pakistan’s GSP+ status over abuse of blasphemy laws” showed an example of bad sources. This withdrawal did not happen.

Philippe Jeune, who sometimes went by the name “Phillipe Jeune,” “Philippe Jeaune,” or “Philippe Lejeune,” and said he was a “Paris-based investigative journalist with more than 10 years of experience” or “a Brussels-based freelance journalist” but didn’t exist, was quoted by ANI.

“A fake “Philippe” (the real French first name is spelled “Philippe”) has been published on EU Political Report and EU Today, two Brussels-based media outlets that Mark Scott has written about in a series of articles for Politico. “ANI’s article uses quotes from both EU Political Report and EU Today, which makes it look like it’s based on reliable EU news sources, but it’s not,” the report said.

The EU DisinfoLab tried to meet Jeune and reached out to the Brussels media where he wrote. When we asked about Jeune’s contribution to EU Political Report, the editor-in-chief told us to talk to the director of EU Today.

“Despite our repeated requests, none of them could put us in touch with Mr. Jeune,” the document said.

The Brussels-based NGO called for bad sources that come from or are helped by real or fake organizations and people in Europe and North America to be recognized and held morally responsible.

The report came to the conclusion that ANI had let down its readers by not following the basic rules of the Charter of Munich, which spells out what journalists have to do and what rights they have.

The fact that some of the “organizations” mentioned use fake names and try to hide their tracks while counting on being quoted often by ANI shows that, in reality, ANI is playing a key role in this influence operation.”

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