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Khaira's news report had mentioned access to Aadhaar data such as names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses but not biometric details.

However, the daily said it will defend its freedom to undertake investigative journalism. "We also appreciate if Tribune & its journalist have any constructive suggestion to offer", the tweet said.

In its statement, the newspaper said: "My colleagues and I are grateful for expressions of support and solidarity from media organisations and journalists".

India previous year slipped three places to 136th in the World Press Freedom Index of 180 nations, compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

The filing of an FIR by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) against a reporter of The Tribune newspaper, for reporting an alleged breach in the Aadhaar database, triggered a political firestorm with the government saying it was committed to press freedom and the Opposition accusing it of "fascism".

"Our story was in response to a very genuine concern among the citizens on a matter of great public interest", Tribune's Editor-in-Chief Harish Khare said in a note on the newspaper's website on Sunday.

The UIDAI said in a statement on Sunday that it respects freedom of press, adding that it was duty bound to name everyone involved in the incident, including the reporter.

"The FIR has been registered by the UIDAI, but I have not gone through the FIR, therefore I can not tell the names of all the persons named in the FIR. soon an investigation will be initiated", Joint Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar (Crime Branch) was quoted as saying by The Tribune on Sunday. It also holds that the said Tribune report of Billion Aadhaar details on sale for Rs. 500 is clearly a case of misreporting being incorrect and misleading. The editors' body, in a strong-worded statement, also demanded that FIR registered against journalist including sections of forgery and cheating of Indian Penal Code (IPC) must be withdrawn.

The FIR was filed two days ago by a deputy director of UIDAI, the parent body of the Aadhaar project, against The Tribune's Rachna Khaira for her report, which claimed that unknown agents had provided her access to Aadhaar's database for Rs 500. These groups targeted over 3 lakh village-level enterprise (VLE) operators hired by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (ME&IT) under the Common Service Centres Scheme (CSCS) across India, offering them access to UIDAI data.


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