24 Oct 2019 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 24 Oct 2019 n° 135/2019 Malta

Attempted Intimidation of Journalists Carlo Bonini, John Sweeney and Blogger Manuel Delia

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner ECPMF Article 19
No state reply yet
Partner ECPMF Article 19
Prior to the publication of their book “Murder on the Malta Express: Who Killed Daphne Caruana Galizia?” in Valletta, journalists Carlo Bonini, John Sweeney and blogger Manuel Delia had sent questions to Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife, Michelle Muscat, Minister of the Economy Chris Cardona, Minister of Tourism Konrad Mizzi and his adviser Keith Schrembi.

On 9 September 2019, Manuel Delia received a letter termed “private and confidential” from Carter Ruck, a specialised law firm with offices in London. According to the book (page 342-343), Carter Ruck declared “it is instructed by the government of Malta (the Government) in connection to the authors’ communication on 2 September to the Prime Minister, his wife and three government ministers”. Further, the letter stated that “the authors will appreciate that whilst the allegations put to each individual differ, each is highly defamatory”; that “all of the matters put to the individuals in the authors’ correspondence are expressed, by implication, to be linked to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia as ‘the circumstances prior to and the aftermath of the assassination’ are said to be the overall subject of the book”.

Instead of answering the questions put by authors, the government of Malta has asked a law firm to inform the journalists that they “reserve all their rights in relation to the publication and repetition of any allegation that is defamatory and untrue”. ECPMF will continue to monitor developments concerning this alert.
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