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Essar, busted for buttering up neta VIPs in leaked emails, threatens journalists with jail for 'receiving stolen property'

Documents leaked to the Indian Express revealed that the Essar Group allegedly regularly identified and treated important politicians to luxury yacht trips with the company’s promoters, perks and gifts, while also allegedly earmarking jobs at Essar for referrals coming via VIPs.

Several politicians confirmed having received perks from Essar, but denied any wrongdoing to the paper. The Centre for Public Interest Litigation will be filing a Supreme Court petition that includes these emails, according to the Express.

However, Essar released a statement to the Indian Express threatening the paper that if it published any allegations related to what it alleged were stolen emails, it could order the arrest of the Express journalists for receiving stolen property:

In the last few weeks we have received anonymous phone calls from people purported to have mail stolen from our systems and on which basis there have been some demands for money at the threat of publishing prejudicial material. It is curious that some of the queries reflect the kind of material on which we were sought to be blackmailed.

It is apparent that some of the material is fabricated and some of the allegations are conclusions and inferences being drawn from email stolen from our computers.

Stealing emails constitutes theft and as you would be aware that Delhi Police is taking strong steps against persons stealing information… We have already filed an appropriate complaint with the concerned authorities…

If you do take to publishing any allegations based on any email stolen from the system, we would take appropriate steps, including by way of a criminal complaint of theft and, it would then be obvious that you would be a receiver of stolen property.

Arrests have been made by Delhi Police of persons who have allegedly received ‘stolen property’ by way of purloined documents. We would take appropriate legal steps to ensure that the protection of law available against theft in all its forms is extended to our property, i.e. our servers and data on these servers.

Debate raged last year in the media surrounding the leak of internal emails from Sony Pictures, which had been stolen by hackers, with wide disagreements on whether publishing the stolen emails was wrong or necessary.

US law, since 2001, ruled in favour of media’s publication of information obtained illegally by third parties if it was a “public concern”.

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