Manuel Delia has said unknown foreign numbers have been messaging him via WhatsApp to stop criticising university lecturer Simon Mercieca.
“For some time, I’ve been receiving WhatsApp messages from unknown numbers abroad telling me I should stop criticising Simon Mercieca, the history professor who moonlights as a blogger ‘seeking justice for Yorgen Fenech’,” Delia wrote in an opinion piece for Times of Malta.
“I tried ignoring them but this was around the time when news came out that Fenech had spoken with lawyers in the UK about suing me for “an absurd figure” that would have ruined me. So, I wasn’t in a good place.”
“The news about Fenech’s plans refreshed the shock I had felt reading in this newspaper that Heathcliff Farrugia, who then ran the Malta Gaming Authority, had warned Fenech to watch out when dealing with me because ‘dak Manuel Delia veru aħdar’.”
“If anyone tells you they are fearless, that none of this stuff affects them, they are endowed with some power I’m not. I do feel fear.”
Delia noted that in one of the fake e-mails that were sent to newsrooms, the person initiating him apologised for criticising Mercieca because he hadn’t been taking his medication.
“The journalists who sent me copies of these e-mails said they were obvious hoaxes. But I know they were discreetly and professionally double-checking if they truly had been,” he said.
In a blogpost today, Delia said that spoof articles have circulated on a WhatsApp group run by a phone allegedly from the United States.
That same US number, he said, had made several prank calls to his personal number.
“When picked up the person at the other end of the line breathed heavily and coughed.”
“The operator of the WhatsApp group, who has not identified themselves, boasts ‘2000 SUBS’ (believed to mean ‘subscriptions’) although people have been receiving unsolicited messages from this account.”
“All links in the WhatsApp group are to fake websites and all links are now broken as the fake websites appear to have been deleted. The only link that still works is to a Simon Mercieca article on his website accusing the Institute of Maltese Journalists of ‘hypocrisy with no limits’ for not considering him a journalist worthy of their protection.”
The spoof articles have regularly targeted the prosecution in the Yorgen Fenech murder case, including articles accusing state witness Melvin Theuma of lying under oath.
Mercieca has claimed that the spoofs are actually being created by “people who have a vested interest to cover up for the fact that Theuma was caught more than once lying and contradicting himself, left, right and centre under oath”.
Prime Minister Robert Abela condemned these spoof attacks today, revealing that he himself had fallen victim to one earlier this month and stating that they have no place in society.
Cover photo: Left: Simon Mercieca, Right: Manuel Delia
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