Russian Whistleblower, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Source, Faces Arrest Warrant in Cyprus after Complaint from Former Employer

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Year 25 Jan 2018 Country Cyprus Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Index , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
25 Jan 2018 Cyprus E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Index , EFJ/IFJ Level 2
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On 16 January 2018, Cyprus issued a European arrest warrant against Maria Efimova, a Russian whistleblower, following a complaint filed by the Russian-owned Cypriot company IFD Fragrance Distribution against Efimova, who is accused of stealing from the company. Maria Efimova, former Pilatus Bank employee, had tipped off Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that the wife of the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Michelle Muscat, was allegedly the owner of Egrant Inc., a Panamanian offshore company. Efimova, who lived in Cyprus four years ago before moving to Malta, says these new charges are part of a plot to discredit her and to extradite her to Malta, where she was placed on the wanted list, after failing to turn up for court sittings. Efimova left Malta in August 2017, fearing for her life and that of her family, after having given evidence to the prosecution on the allegations regarding the PM’s wife ownership of the Panama offshore company. The Prime Minister and his wife denied the allegations and called for a judicial inquiry. Efimova has now applied for political asylum in an unspecified European Union country and asked from the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion to recognise her as a whistleblower. The European Parliament, asked EU member states, including Malta, to protect Efimova and grant her asylum, after a delegation led by the Portuguese MEP, Ana Gomes visited Malta in late November 2017.

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Factsheet on detention with a view to expel, return, transfer or extradite a person to another country