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EU Press Monitor Calls For Malta To Prosecute Those Involved In Disinformation Campaign Targeting News Portals

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The partner organisations in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) are calling for the Maltese state to “swiftly investigate and prosecute” those involved in the recent undemocratic disinformation campaign.

The MFRR is a Europe-wide mechanism that deploys a systematic and comprehensive monitoring of press and media violations in all EU member states to defend press and media freedom while protecting journalists and media workers.

“Maltese authorities must take decisive action towards the implementation of the Public Inquiry’s recommendations concerning the protection of journalists,” the partner organisations of the MFRR said in a statement today.

Some of the partner organisations include the European Federation of Journalists, International Press Institute and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom.

“This includes those stemming from its identification of the State’s failure to protect reporters and media workers before attacks escalate to physical violence,” it continued.

The MFRR acknowledged that it was not known who was behind the fake websites but pointed the finger towards blogger Simon Mercieca, who it accused of “feeding the frenzy” by making false claims about a number of Maltese journalists and activists.

Mercieca has claimed that blogger Manuel Delia gets paid €30,000 per year by Repubblika to be its executive officer and that the civil society movement rents offices from Delia’s wife.

In fact, Delia revealed that he had been receiving WhatsApp messages from unknown numbers abroad telling him to stop criticising Mercieca.

The MFRR continued to expose what they claimed to be falsities expressed by Mercieca, including the blogger’s attempt to taint the reputation of Matthew Xuereb, assistant editor at the Times of Malta and President of the Institute of Maltese Journalists, by claiming that Xuereb was behind a fake Facebook trolling profile.

Mercieca also targeted the Caruana Galizia family by asserting that they were in possession of a non-PDF electronic version of the report of the Public Inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, thus allegedly allowing them to make changes to their advantage, the statement added.

The partner organisations of the MFRR mechanism are both concerned about disinformation attempts occurring on the island and standing in solidarity with the targeted journalists, media workers and members of civil society.

This comes following the dissemination of spoof articles parodying several Maltese news outlets including Lovin Malta, Newsbook, TVM, StradaRjali and NET.

Some of which have attempted to defend murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, who was recently charged with trying to purchase weapons through the dark net in 2018.

Both the opposition leader Bernard Grech and Prime Minister Robert Abela have condemned these attacks and called for a stronger fight against cyber crimes.

A protest against these spoof articles will be held tonight at 6:30pm.

What do you think should be done about this?

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Ana’s a university student who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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