‘US not part of Indian probe on doctored images’

Victoria NulandWASHINGTON: The US has said it is not part of the Indian investigation that is looking into doctored images and videos being uploaded on the internet by elements in Pakistan to create social unrest in the country.

“The Indian government itself is investigating, so we’re going to let that go forward,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at a news conference when asked about the Indian allegations in this regard.

“No,” she said when asked if the US is part of the Indian investigation.

Morphed images and photographs of people who had died in cyclones and earthquakes in Myanmar were circulated as victims of violence in Assam. Indian officials said more than 60 per cent of the offending contents were uploaded abroad — mostly in Pakistan — while remaining in India.

Driven by rumors, over 30,000 northeast people had fled south Indian cities fearing attacks on them.

India has sought help from the US and Saudi Arabia to track down the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the webpages where morphed images and videos were uploaded.

“We have seen these reports that northeastern Indians are returning to the northeast from cities in southern India, and these media reports that the returns are due to concerns about personal safety. The Indian authorities themselves have called for calm, they have provided assurances of protection and safety to all people,” she said.

“As you know, they have called an investigation of some of the sources of the rumors that have caused people to start to move. And so we are going to obviously watch and see how that process goes forward,” Nuland said.

On the larger question of internet freedom, she said, the US has always been on the side of its full freedom.

“But as the Indian government continues to investigate these instances and preserve security, we also always urge the government to maintain its own commitment to human rights, fundamental freedoms, rule of law,” she added. -PTI

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