The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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Updated: Repubblika, IGM condemn intimidation of journalists

Saturday, 11 May 2024, 16:06 Last update: about 13 days ago

Repubblika on Saturday strongly condemned the intimidation of journalists and calls upon the government to ensure that the targeting of journalists is not tolerated.

Repubblika said it has been monitoring the political rhetoric adopted by government, including Robert Abela, in the past few days since the conclusions of the magisterial inquiry regarding the hospital privatisation.


Abela and persons connected with him have adopted intimidating attitudes and behaviour against the media, singling out individual journalists, particularly women journalists, and inciting public scorn in their regard. 

Journalists should not be exposed to intimidation and subjection to public scorn. Repubblika further notes the intentional intimidation of women journalists and of women who participate in public debate.

It made particular reference to the v”icious attack” on a journalist by Jason Micallef, Chairman of the Valletta Cultural Agency, on the RTK programme conducted by Andrew Azzopardi. This is absolutely unacceptable, the NGO said.

Repubblika demands that action is taken without further delay to ensure that journalists’ privacy is respected, and that such vicious attacks against journalists are not repeated. In a functioning democracy, journalists have to be allowed to carry out their work serenely and without intimidation from government or any other source.

Micallef on Saturday accused a Newsbook journalist of “collusion with the establishment” after photographs of chat conversations on her laptop were taken during a press conference by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Speaking on the Church radio station on Saturday morning, Micallef claimed that the journalist “was given questions” to ask Muscat by former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi and members of NGO Repubblika.

Micallef had printed photographs he claimed to have received of chats on the laptop being used by Newsbook journalist Monique Agius.

He claimed that these photographs showed how Agius received the questions she had to ask Joseph Muscat from Repubblika lawyer Jason Azzopardi, its Honorary President Robert Aquilina and member Alessandra Dee Crespo.

Stop instigating hate towards journalists - IGM

In a separate statement, the IGM (Institute of Maltese Journalists) unreservedly condemns yet another attack on members of the media and calls for an end to the instigation of hate towards journalists – a very slippery slope.

The latest incident involving government official Jason Micallef is of great concern on several counts, including the way he purposely singled out a journalist to place her in the establishment pigeonhole.

According to an official complaint received by the IGM from Newsbook, Micallef failed to provide a copy of these images when asked to do so, and that Agius confirmed that none of the people mentioned by Micallef had forwarded any questions to be asked by her during the press conference.

Irrespective of the merits, the IGM is seriously concerned about how photographs of the journalist’s chats on her laptop were taken stealthily during an official press conference. Do journalists have to watch their backs when they’re working?

The IGM believes that today’s attack builds on those that took place earlier in the week when the Prime Minister accused some journalists and their media houses of working for the so-called Establishment, clearly implying they are enemies of the State and of the people.

The IGM has already condemned such comments and reiterates that they are unacceptable in a democratic society. The Prime Minister should lead by example. He and all government exponents should not instigate hate towards journalists and the media. It is very dangerous and could have serious consequences, for which the IGM is holding the Prime Minister and the government responsible.

The IGM continues to stress that journalists should be given the liberty to do their job, and speak to as many people and sources as they need in the course of their duties. Speaking to people is a large part of what journalists do and sources must be afforded full protection.

The IGM expresses its full support and solidarity with Monique Agius and all journalists and urges them to continue with their work without fear.


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