On 15 April you carried a letter from PEN International which made an allegation of the greatest gravity. This suggested that the blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia “was killed in direct response to her fearless investigative journalism exposing high-level government corruption in Malta”. Most would understand this as an unqualified allegation that this government had at least some hand in the organisation of the murder. This is false and grossly defamatory, unsupported by the known facts, as set out in the Guardian and elsewhere.
We do not deny that Caruana Galizia was frequently at odds with the government of Malta, and individuals within the government were targets of her blog; she had deep political animosity towards the Labour party. Many of her allegations were false and defamatory, resulting in libel actions from people seeking proper legal redress. Had the government been the only target of her attacks, it might be possible to understand the speculation of government involvement – however alien to the values and commitments of this administration.
But the targets for her stories were numerous, including criminals with a known propensity for violence. The Guardian’s own report said she “had many enemies and many critics. She took aim at anyone she believed needed to be held to account – mobsters, business people, even the current leader of the Nationalist party, with which she had been closely aligned.” At the time of her death, she was facing five libel actions from the leader of the opposition.
To suggest that her murder must be connected to her criticism of government is to wilfully ignore the nature of her work and its impact on large numbers of her targets. The government has pursued the investigation with the utmost rigour, assisted by the FBI and Europol. It has offered a €1m reward for information leading to her killers. Three individuals have been arrested and charged, and the investigation continues unabated, although hampered by the refusal to make her laptop available to the investigators.
The PEN letter was signed by numerous signatories, including many writers of great distinction. We have to ask whether they were presented with the full facts before they were persuaded to sign this letter. PEN’s own press release ascribes the cause of the murder to “rampant government corruption at the heart of the EU” – a wholly different allegation to the “high-level government corruption in Malta”, as set out in your newspaper. Which, in fact, was the letter endorsed by the signatories?
This evil and shocking murder has appalled everyone in Malta. However, we do know that there are interests hostile to the Malta government who would welcome any opportunity to damage or destabilise the current administration in Malta. But we also believe that much of the recent outcry has resulted from an inadequate understanding of the facts in this tragic and complex matter. We hope that here we have helped clear some of the most serious misapprehensions.
Head of communications, government of Malta
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