28 Jun 2019
Anti-Modi website claiming EVM hacking shutdown; Owner offers erotic massages
Remember Tricolor News Network (TNN) World?
During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the shady "news channel" published uncorroborated reports, which were cited by senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal to peddle allegations of EVM hacking and demonetization fraud against the Narendra Modi government.
Well, the website has shut down now, and reportedly, TNN's director has ventured into a new business model, an erotic massage center.
New massage service offers 'prolonged sexual pleasure'
According to India Today, filings before the United Kingdom's Registrar of Companies revealed that Diana Irina Biciin- a Romanian national and TNN's Director of Operations- registered a massage services company named Eva's Tantric Massage Ltd in London. A Whois lookup reveals the company's website was registered on April 24.
The report added that the company offers "intimate sensual massage promising a prolonged sexual pleasure."
TNN took off months before elections; shutdown weeks post results
TNN reportedly registered two domain names, tricolourtv.com, and tnn.world. The India Today report also revealed tricolourtv.com was registered on November 11, 2018- around five months before the LS polls- and tnn.world was registered on January 31, 2019.
On November 29, TNN was incorporated in the UK by Biciin, the report stated.
Both websites became inactive earlier in June, weeks after poll results.
TNN posted many stories targeting Modi government
TNN World identified itself as "an independent, UK-based news publisher."
On January 21, TNN broadcasted a London press conference live on Facebook, showing a Skype call with a purported Indian cyber expert, Syed Suja, who claimed the 2014 general elections were "rigged" through EVM tampering.
Later, TNN published a "Tsunami of Stings" alleging demonetization fraud and EVM hacking, targeting the Modi government.
News anchor revealed to be a London-based actor
What struck people the most was that an international news platform (which emerged out of nowhere) was exclusively interested in Indian politics.
The news anchor was also a white woman, and it was later discovered that she was no TV journalist at all.
The anchor was identified as one Kristin Stein, a London-based actor, who now keeps her Twitter profile private.
Sibal first cited TNN during March press conference
If you are wondering how a fake news website with absolutely no known history came to fore, we have Kapil Sibal to thank.
Sibal, along with Opposition leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sharad Yadav, Hemant Soren, held a press conference in March, citing TNN's sting which showed a Gujarat BJP leader transacting post-demonetization banned notes for 40% commission past the bank exchange deadline.
Sibal held another conference; was present at January TNN broadcast
On April 9, Sibal held yet another press conference citing TNN reports, even as the website's credibility came into question.
At this conference, reports were cited which highlighted BJP's money-exchange operation and also dragged 26 different departments, including Indian external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), alleging their involvement.
Incidentally, Sibal was also present at the January press conference with Suja.
Sibal rejects ownership of TNN World, again
Sibal reportedly dismissed an India Today query about Bicii's venture into massage services, rejecting ownership of the website, mirroring his past statements. "How can I verify? I'm not the owner of this video. It's in the website," Sibal told The Indian Express in March.
TNN: Union Minister alleged Congress influence in March
After the March conference, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had alleged Congress' involvement in the website, adding that the party planned to shut it down after the elections.
In March, when TIE approached TNN, a 'Catherine' informed them over the phone that a Canadian team conducted the sting operations between January-April 2017 and accused the correspondent of being the "Prime Minister's intelligence agency operative."