RealNews

A Web Site in India That Revealed Graft Becomes a Target

Nearly two years ago, Tehelka, which means sensation in Hindi, caused one. Nine months after its founding, the news Web site burst forth with videotape showing politicians, bureaucrats, military officers and middlemen seeking and taking bribes from arms dealers. The dealers were in fact undercover Tehelka journalists, pretending to peddle thermal imaging binoculars. The furor — after four and a half hours of the tapes were televised — was immediate. The coalition government briefly seemed to totter and the defense minister, George Fernandes, whose party leader was shown accepting funds, resigned. Now, far from their bringing the government down, the journalists say the government is bringing them down. None of the officials pictured on the tapes have been prosecuted. But Tehelka’s main investor spent two and a half months in jail, and has watched his business shrink to almost nothing. One of the Web site’s journalists, Kumar Badal, was granted bail last month, by Supreme Court order, after six months in jail; the government’s Central Bureau of Investigation accused him of hiring poachers to kill leopards so that it could be recorded on film — a charge he and Tehelka’s editors deny. Full Story

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