The Shift News founder Caroline Muscat and Newsbook journalists Monique Agius and Miguel Xuereb have testified in the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In her testimony, Muscat recounted how government officials and supporters have used social media to “dehumanise” Caruana Galizia, her family, government critics, journalists and activists, and to spread disinformation with the aim of muddying the waters and therefore protecting the government.
Agius and Xuereb recounted how journalists had infamously been temporarily blocked from exiting Castille on the night former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat refused Yorgen Fenech’s request for a presidential pardon.
The Department of Information later issued this statement to clarify some statements made by Muscat in her testimony:
“The Department of Information does not issue Press Cards. It only issues Access Cards which are used for government events only. DOI access cards are issued upon the endorsement of the editor/head of news of the particular media organisation. It is the editor/head of news of the media organisation concerned (and not the Department) who determines whether the applicant is a journalist. The Department always leaves the authenticity of the endorsement to the editor/head of news.
The Department has never denied an Access Card for government events to any media organisation, registered or not.
The Department of Information never insisted with online portals to register. Indeed, the many news portals which voluntarily opted to register were informed a priori by the Department that registration is voluntary according to the Media and Defamation Act.
The official calendar of press events, issued on a daily basis, is an open source data. It can also be accessed online by one and all on the gov.mt portal and is updated accordingly.”