A study published by the EU Disinformation Lab last week discovered a network of 265 fake media outlets in 65 countries serving Indian lobbying interests. The study noted that the global network has been put in place to influence the EU and the UN by repeatedly criticizing Pakistan. In early October, the European External Action Service’s East StratCom (the EU Disinformation Task Force) revealed that ‘eptoday.com’, the website of a self-proclaimed magazine for the European Parliament in Brussels, had been re-publishing a large amount of news directly from Russia Today and Voice of America.
Among this syndicated content, the EU Disinformation Lab found a large number of articles and op-eds related to minorities in Pakistan as well as other India-related matters. The lab later discovered that EP Today is managed by Indian stakeholders, with ties to a large network of think tanks, NGOs and companies. The study also reveals that a recent visit of 27 members of the European Parliament to Kashmir and meeting with Prime Minister Modi was also organised by the interest groups running the global network of fake news for India.
For instance, an online magazine setup by the same group in Geneva – timesofgeneva.com – that is ‘approaching 35 years in business’ publishes the same type of content as EP Today and produces videos covering events and demonstrations criticizing Pakistan’s role in the Kashmir conflict. ‘We have found hard evidence that both EP Today and Times of Geneva have extremely strong ties with network of NGOs and think tanks, such as the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), and Pakistani Women’s Human Rights Organization to churn out propaganda against Pakistan,’ the study noted.
‘The websites of these NGOs and think tanks are hosted on the same servers and/or staff have worked for one of these previous organizations while publishing articles for EP Today,’ it revealed. ‘We also proved that the two influence networks (Brussels and Geneva) were interconnected by discovering links between website registration addresses, email addresses, and domain names,’ it went on to say. ‘In view of this, both networks serve lobbying interests, with Brussels towards the European Union, and Geneva towards the United Nations – all achieved while providing extended visibility to former MEPs and MPs,’ it added. According to some of the findings from these websites, which have been active for several years, most of those are named after an extinct local newspaper or spoof real media outlets.