India court orders government to release Greenpeace funds

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - An Indian court has ordered the government to release blocked funds of Greenpeace India, the environmental group said in a statement on Tuesday, months after being accused of running campaigns that were hurting Asia's third-largest economy.

India's intelligence service in June said Greenpeace and other lobby groups were damaging the country's economy by campaigning against power projects, mining and genetically modified food.

While Greenpeace denied the allegations, India asked its central bank to tighten controls on moving funds from abroad into Greenpeace's Indian accounts.

Greenpeace said the Indian government had "arbitrarily barred" it from receiving foreign funds from Greenpeace International and Climate Works Foundation in June 2014.

"This is a vindication of our work and the role that credible NGOs (non-governmental organisations) play in support of India's development," Samit Aich, Greenpeace India's executive director, said in the statement. "This is a strong signal from the judiciary that the government must cease its campaign of harassment of civil society."

The government's move to restrict the movement of funds had raised concerns that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government will be tough on foreign-funded activist groups.

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