EU DisinfoLab exposes India News Agency for running false anti-Pak, China propaganda

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ISLAMABAD, FEB 24 (DNA) — The EU DisinfoLab, an NGO that focused tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns, found that leading Indian media outlet Asian News International (ANI) was involved in using non-existent sources to spread propaganda against Pakistan and China.

The organisation revealed it in its latest investigation into anti-Pakistan/China influence operations and follows up on two previous investigations published in 2019 and 2020.

“The investigation looks into a number of non-existent organisations, bloggers and journalists who are regularly quoted by Asian News International (ANI),” read the DisinfoLab’s blog. It added that the content of ANI was also reproduced on well-known digital portals such as Yahoo News.

ANI had previously been accused of reporting the Indian government’s ‘version of truth’ by independent magazine The Caravan. Moreover, two previous EU DisinfoLab investigations have revealed that ANI regularly quoted the defunct ‘EP Today’ and ‘EU Chronicles’, two fake media outlets supposedly specialising in EU affairs that were, in fact, created to push anti-Pakistan/China narratives in India.

The latest investigation revealed that ANI had been repeatedly quoting a think tank that was dissolved in 2014 and therefore no longer exists. “ANI has been using quotes from a journalist, as well as from several bloggers and supposed geopolitical experts, who do not exist,” it said.

Fake personae, self-described as James Bond fans, basketball players and management consultants, became geopolitical experts quoted by ANI numerous times on topics such as Pakistan’s army doctrines and China’s ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’.

A think tank, that we had previously linked to the Srivastava group and that was legally dissolved in 2014, is now quoted about twice a week by ANI. The think tank’s website falsely mentions real Canadian university professors as participants in a conference that they never attended, even concocting false quotes by these academics. “We had already observed this identity-hijacking pattern in our previous Indian Chronicles investigation,” it said.

“The narratives pushed by these fake personae and/or organisations are almost entirely about criticising Pakistan and China, countries that are not India’s greatest allies on the international stage. These fake experts or think tanks are quoted almost solely by ANI and then republished across several Indian media outlets,” reads the blog.

“We assess that ANI has, at least, failed its readership by not respecting the fundamentals of the Charter of Munich. The fact that some of the ‘organisations’ mentioned use fake personae and are trying to hide their tracks while counting on being regularly quoted by ANI shows that ANI is, de facto, playing a key role in this influence operation.” — DNA