The Malta Independent 14 November 2018, Wednesday

Updated: PL says Casa threatened journalist after his hypocrisy was exposed; Casa responds

Monday, 20 August 2018, 13:46 Last update: about 4 months ago

Recent revelations that EPP MEP David Casa put close family relatives on the European Parliament payroll as assistants within his MEP Office (in breach of the EP’s own rules) is not only a textbook case of nepotism and corruption, but underline Casa’s political dishonesty and hypocrisy, the Labour Party said in a statement.

One should recall that, just a few short weeks ago, MEP Casa stood up within the EP and vigorously defended the work carried out by journalists and the media, slamming SLAPP lawsuits and affirming that “harassment has no place in the EU”. 

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He even went as far as to meet with the President of the European Commission to call on the European Commission to implement an EU anti-SLAPP directive to combat the abusive practices intended to intimidate and silence investigative journalists.

“A free press that is protected from abuse, intimidation and harassment is a prerequisite to a properly functioning democracy. We must be vigilant in identifying emerging threats to investigative journalism and take the necessary measures to address them,” MEP Casa announced following the meeting.

And yet, the moment a newspaper published a story that exposed his own wrong doing, MEP Casa was quick to resort to legal threats in order to gag the newspaper and prohibit it from reporting facts which he did not wish to be publicly known, the PL said.

It seems that MEP Casa is only a defender of freedom of speech and of investigative journalism only as long as he the reports being published do not concern him specifically. When they do, his first reaction is to resort to legal threats, intimidation, and harassment.

He is guilty of perpetrating the same chilling effect on journalists which he denounced with such enthusiasm only a few weeks ago.

MEP Casa goes to great lengths to preach about the importance of public standards such as transparency, honesty, and of being held accountable by investigative journalists. But it seems that the moment he finds himself required to live up to those self-same public standards, then he seems to think they no longer apply.

Instead of trying to threaten and intimidate journalists simply for publishing facts which make him uncomfortable, MEP Casa would do well to live up to his own standards, and start coming up with answers.

'My work must be hitting a nerve" - David Casa

In response, Casa issued a statement of his own. "Saviour Balzan's MaltaToday published a contorted story where they implied I broke EU rules despite them having been provided with the specific legislation proving that this is not the case by me. The assertions made in the article are intentionally inaccurate and misleading.  There is nothing irregular, illegal, there is no breach of EU rules and neither are there any ethical concerns that are raised by this story."

"The purpose of the MaltaToday story is intended to damage my reputation on the basis of deceit. It is part of a concerted and sustained effort by the Labour Party to silence its critics.  In the last month, I have been threatened with legal action by the FIAU after publishing a leaked report that calls for police action against Konrad Mizzi for corruption and money laundering. I have also been threatened with legal action by Keith Schembri's lawyers who represent the notorious Pilatus Bank. And I have been the target of a hate campaign culminating last week with Labour Party activists calling for me to be hanged," Casa said

"I have been at the forefront in calling for the protection of investigative journalism. I have recently submitted amendments to significantly increase the protection afforded to journalists through the Whistleblower legislation currently being negotiated in the European Parliament and for which I am the responsible EPP MEP in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. I have launched an ongoing campaign to push for EU legislation that would protect journalists from abusive lawsuits. But this story is not the result of investigative journalism - it is an affront to journalism and a betrayal of the handful of MaltaToday readers that might still be under the misguided impression this newspaper is not in the Labour Party's pocket."

"Still it is ludicrous to claim that I threatened Saviour Balzan's MaltaToday. I stated that if they publish a story they know to be untrue I will take measures to protect my reputation. I did not collude with powerful businesses to financially cripple a journalist through the courts in Arizona. The desperate efforts to circulate this non-story are both tedious and nauseating. I understand that my work upsets many people in the Labour Party. But so long as they don't act on their continuous threats they are going to have to learn to live with it."


 

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