Adani silences its critics and intimidates journalists
“I believe we have a problem when media outlets are intimidated to a point where they are self-censoring their stories,” - Senator David Pocock.
Photos and documents tabled in the Australian Senate, on 21 June by Senator David Pocock, detailed legal threats made by Adani to a Walkley award-winning photojournalist as further evidence of Adani’s aggressive attempts to silence its critics and attack press freedom.
Numerous reports of threats and intimidation over the years outline a pattern of behaviour that is strategically intended to intimidate and silence.
Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodian Gurridyula, also known as Coedie McAvoy, has said that 'there is a stranglehold on news stories about our situation' and that if 'media outlets try to put out real stories, Adani's lawyers intimidate them ... Adani is like that Karen who lives next door and keeps calling the police.'
It is well documented that Adani has on other occasions and in other contexts sought to silence journalists with their 'attack dog' strategy. Commencing legal action and lodging Press Council complaints are some of the methods used to intimidate journalists in Australia and abroad. - Senator David Pocock. (Read his full speech to Australian Parliament).
Adani's 'attack dog' Strategy for waging legal 'war'
In 2019 documents obtained by the ABC revealed lawyers for mining firm Adani proposed waging "war" on opponents of its controversial Queensland mine by using the legal system to pressure government, silence critics and financially cripple activists.
In the document, the Brisbane firm AJ & Co promised to be Adani's "trained attack dog".
The strategy recommended bankrupting individuals, using lawsuits to pressure the Queensland Government, and social media "bias" as a tool to discredit decision-makers. (Source: ABC)
Other stories Adani has tried to bury
Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta still writing despite Adani's arrest warrant and legal threats.
Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta was served an arrest warrant for two stories on the group’s closeness to the Modi government and on its possible tax evasion that were published in The Wire and in the Economic and Political Weekly.
First the Adani Group sent legal notices to the publications, asking them to take down the articles. When the EPW took them down, Thakurta resigned as its editor.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the conglomerate has filed defamation suits against journalists including Bodhisatva Ganguli, Pavan Burugula, and Nehal Chaliawala of the Economic Times; Latha Venkatesh and Nimesh Shah of CNBC TV18; freelance journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta; news website Newsclick; and the news magazine Economic and Policy Weekly. (Source: Reuters)
Journalist Ravi Nair not intimidated by Adani defamation claims and arrest warrant.
Nair has been a frequent contributor to AdaniWatch. The complaint against Nair was filed in the court of Gandhinagar in Adani’s home state of Gujarat and is dated 19 August 2021.
Adani’s case against Nair ostensibly pertains to 26 tweets, but his hard-hitting contributions to AdaniWatch also feature in Adani’s complaint. The vast majority of the tweets clearly constitute expressions of opinion on matters already in the public domain.
The Delhi Union of Journalists condemned this attack on Nair. In a media release referring to Nair’s case and another, the union said ‘these attacks constitute a continuum of attacks and threats to independent journalists and journalism in India today’. (Source: AdaniWatch)
Adani threatened a lawsuit over Hindenburg report on the ‘largest con in corporate history.’ Short seller says bring it on.
The Adani Group threatened to take legal action against Hindenburg Research after the U.S.-based short-seller released a 106-page report, accusing the Gautam Adani-led conglomerate of “pulling the largest con in corporate history.”
Responding to the Adani Group, Hindenburg Research said that the company hasn’t addressed a single substantive issue raised in the 32,000-word report. “At the conclusion of our report, we asked 88 straightforward questions that we believe give the company a chance to be transparent. Thus far, Adani has answered none of these questions,” the short seller says in a statement.
“Instead, as expected, Adani has resorted to bluster and threats,” it adds.
On the threat of legal action, Hindenburg Research said it welcomes it. “We fully stand by our report and believe any legal action taken against us would be meritless. If Adani is serious, it should also file suit in the U.S. where we operate. We have a long list of documents we would demand in a legal discovery process.” (Source: Fortune).
Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians still resisting despite Adani's "attack dog" tactics.
- Mining giant Adani bankrupted Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodian Adrian Burragubba in 2019, who opposed Adani's Carmichael coal mine.
- In 2021 Adani tried to bury an RMIT study that found Adani violated international human rights law in its interactions with the Wangan and Jagalingou people.
- In August 2021, Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians set up a stone Bora ring and ceremonial ground opposite Adani’s mine and have been continuously re-occupying their land since then, asserting their human rights as Wangan and Jagalingou people to practise culture and live on their homelands.
- They continue to make history exerting their right to practise their culture on a mining lease for over 680 days. Find out more and support.
"According to Gurridyula and other Cultural Custodians, two prominent Australian news outlets have visited the camp to take interviews, videos, and photos but did not subsequently publish their stories following legal correspondence from Adani. I have independently verified these allegations." - Senator David Pocock. (Read his full speech to Australian Parliament).
Australian Four Corners journalists were questioned by police for 5 hours while filming a story about Adani.
- The journalists were then threatened with an escalation of police surveillance for the rest of their trip. The full 4 Corners piece is here.
- Journalist Stephen Long's account of the incident with police is here.
- Stephen Long also wrote about communities in India who are taking legal action against the Adani Godda power plant, where coal from the Carmichael coal will be burned.
- "Pre-empting a story by issuing a “response” before the report is even published. Extraordinary and unprofessional. First time I’ve encountered this in my long journalism career." - Stephen Long.
Ben Pennings, a Brisbane-based community activist being sued by Adani.
- The activist, Ben Pennings, from the group Galilee Blockade, is being sued by Adani for $17 million.
- "Adani tried to break my family quickly. They followed my wife and kids around, twice tried to raid our home, and attacked us in the Murdoch press." - Ben Pennings.
- Lawyers for Adani have sought to identify people who obtained leaked information about its Carmichael coal project, raising concerns that journalists could be dragged into “conspiracy” legal proceedings launched by the miner against an environmental activist. (Source: The Guardian).
Adani consistently pressures governments and regulators to ignore scientific advice and approve inadequate environmental management plans.
- BirdLife Australia’s Stephanie Todd said Adani’s proposed new management plan for the endangered finch – obtained under Queensland’s Right to Information laws – shows Adani had “sidelined” independent scientists with whom the mining company is required to consult.
- Documents provided to the ABC showed Adani refused to accept key scientific findings and recommendations about its water management plans.
- In a move clearly intended to intimidate Adani demands names of CSIRO scientists reviewing groundwater plans.
“What does that say about our democracy, our culture of secrecy, that a litigious foreign-owned corporation can have so much influence in our press?” - Senator David Pocock.