Malta Economy Minister Issues four Libel Suits and Warrants Against Blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia

Update: 17 Nov 2017 State replied
Year 10 Feb 2017 Country Malta Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 2
10 Feb 2017 Malta C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 2

Malta Independent journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia is having her bank accounts frozen with precautionary warrants for 47,460 EUR after a court upheld on 8 February 2017 a request by Maltese Economy Minister Chris Cardona and his consultant Joe Gerada to issue garnishee orders alongside four libel suits they have filed against her. The journalist is sued for publishing on her blog an article reporting that both men visited a brothel in Velbert (Germany) while on government business. Cardona has denied the allegation. According to media reports, the effect of the precautionary warrants on her assets means her bank accounts will remain frozen until the case is concluded and that could take many years. In a statement published on her blog, Daphne Caruana Galizia denounced an attempt to gag the press. The Institute of Maltese Journalists called on the minister to reconsider his action, highlighting the exaggerated nature of the legal action.

Updates

31 Mar 2017 : On 11 March 2017 Silvio Debono, owner of real estate investment company DB Group, filed 19 libel cases against journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Galizia published a number of articles about Debono cutting a deal with Malta's government to take over a large tract of public land in a high value coastal area on which he plans to build a Hard Rock Hotel and two towers of flats for sale. In her statement, Daphne Caruana Galizia said that the libel suits are all about the same subject, "taking advantage of the fact that the law allows them to sue for each comment, article or blog post even if the subject matter and the author are the same." “The cases will drag through the courts, it will cost me around €8,000 merely to file my responses, and anybody else would have been intimidated into submission,” she added.

Follow-ups

16 Feb 2017 : OSCE Representative for Media Freedom urges authorities in Malta to protect independent journalists and free expression
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