EU DisinfoLab unveils 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 organizations, bloggers, and journalists who are regularly quoted by Asian News International (ANI), who do not exist. ANI is an Indian news agency that plays a relevant role in the country’s information ecosystem, providing content for many well-established media across India, such as The Print and Business Standard.
It is important to mention that two previous EU DisinfoLab investigations have revealed that ANI regularly quoted the defunct ‘EP Today’ and ‘EU Chronicles, two fake media outlets supposedly specializing in EU affairs that were created to push anti-Pakistan/China narratives in India. 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. ANI has been repeatedly quoting a think tank that was dissolved in 2014 and therefore no longer exists.
A think tank was linked to the Srivastava group and that was legally dissolved in 2014, is now quoted twice a week by ANI. The narratives pushed by these fake personae or organizations are almost entirely about criticizing 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. Besides ANI and those outlets republishing its content, barely any other established media covered the reports produced by these ‘Bad Sources’ (BS) – the name we gave to this investigation. It is assessed that ANI has failed its readership by not respecting the fundamentals of the Charter of Munich. The fact that some of the ‘organizations’ 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.