PEN International have accused the Maltese government spokesperson Kurt Farrugia’s of distorting its open letter in which the organisation slammed the “outrageous” behaviour of V18 chairman Jason Micallef and called for an independent investigation of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Last week, PEN International sent an open letter to the head of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker in which it expressed “fears relating to the ongoing investigation by the Maltese Authorities into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which we believe does not meet the standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness required under international human rights law.”
PEN International urged Juncker and the European Commission “to take a stand in support of calls for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and for the protection of journalists in Malta
In a reply published on The Guardian this week, Farrugia claimed that PEN International’s open letter – signed among others by acclaimed authors Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan – blamed the Maltese government for Caruana Galizia’s murder.
“On 15 April you carried a letter from PEN International which made an allegation of the greatest gravity. This suggested that the blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia ‘was killed in direct response to her fearless investigative journalism exposing high-level government corruption in Malta’.
Most would understand this as an unqualified allegation that this government had at least some hand in the organisation of the murder. This is false and grossly defamatory, unsupported by the known facts, as set out in the Guardian and elsewhere,” Farrugia said.
He went on to accuse PEN International of misleading the numerous signatories “before they were persuaded to sign this letter.” Farrugia also asked whether the letter was endorsed by the signatories.
While deflecting criticism on his government, Farrugia also alleged that the Maltese government is the victim of an international conspiracy and said “we do know that there are interests hostile to the Malta government who would welcome any opportunity to damage or destabilise the current administration in Malta.”
In a brief reply published on its webpage, PEN International said “The response from Kurt Farrugia, Head of Communications for the government of Malta to PEN International’s open letter of 16 April 2018 – which marked the 6 month anniversary of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia – distorts the meaning of PEN’s letter and fails to address PEN’s legitimate, well-founded concerns regarding the investigation into Caruana Galizia’s murder and the management of Europe’s Capital of Culture, Valletta 2018.”
Following PEN International’s open letter, some 150 Maltese artists signed a petition calling for the removal of V18 chairman Jason Micallef.
Reiterating its call for an independent, impartial investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in line with international human rights law, PEN International said it would be publishing a detailed response, responding to each of Farrugia claims.