The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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Anti-corruption activists appeal to Greek Prime Minister for Efimova to be granted asylum

Tuesday, 27 March 2018, 13:11 Last update: about 6 years ago

Anti-corruption activists have penned a letter to the Greek Prime Minister asking for Maria Efimova, who had provided information to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, to be granted asylum in Greece.

Efimova became a household name in Malta after it was found that she was one source who divulged information to Caruana Galizia that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife, Michelle Muscat, is the Ultimate Beneficial Owner of Egrant Inc, a Panama based company. The allegation is that money was transferred through Pilatus Bank, Ta’ Xbiex, where Efimova was previously employed.

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She testified in a magisterial inquiry on the Egrant allegations. In addition to this, Malta had issued an international arrest warrant against Efimova for failing to attend court hearings regarding a case instituted by Pilatus Bank themselves, where they claimed she had misappropriated some €2,000.

Another case was filed against her where she was alleged to have made false accusations against Superintendent Denis Theuma and inspectors Jonathan Ferris and Lara Butters.

After she escaped from Malta claiming to have feared for her life, Efimova ended up in Greece. In recent weeks, she handed herself in to the Greek authorities due to the international arrest warrant which had been issued. She is now inside a Greek jail while its judicial system decides on whether to accept Malta’s request for extradition or whether to grant her asylum.

The Civil Society Network, Occupy Justice, il-Kenniesa and Awturi gathered before the Greek embassy where they read out an open letter to its Prime Minister.

Activists highlighted the absurdity of an international arrest warrant being issued by Malta against Efimova over “petty, private disputes”.

The activists highlighted how high-level persecution of individuals who divulge information is a big warning sign for others not to speak out.

“A journalist was murdered, and her source has suffered vilification, exile, considerable financial hardship and now arrest and detention.”

They also highlighted how the “sole owner” of Pilatus Bank, Iranian national Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, who was detained last week in America, is facing a possible 125 years in prison on charges of circumventing US sanctions, money laundering and fraud.

In the letter, activists reminded the Greek PM that the EU is “not a club of governments”, and that the values of freedom of expression should trump a possible misappropriation of a paltry €2,000 as alleged by Pilatus Bank. The activists even offered to reimburse the bank for the alleged misappropriation of funds.

They also pointed out “fake news” stories in Malta and Cyprus falsely alleging that Efimova is suspected of murdering Caruana Galizia and a former Russian spy together with his daughter, the Skiprals, in the UK weeks ago.

Activists accused government agents and apologists of spinning these stories.

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