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Fake news portal behind attack on MEP Ana Gomes

Ana Gomes
Ana Gomes

The source of allegations on Socialist MEP Ana Gomes having “murky ties to a global fraudster” was an online portal on which several alarms have been raised, although this did not stem the aggressive push of the story by Labour MPs in Malta to discredit their socialist counterpart in Brussels.

The ‘European Union Anti-Corruption’ platform published a story last week claiming that Gomes – the vice chair of the EU’s Special Committee on Financial Crimes – was “co-opted by the perpetrator of one of the biggest financial crimes in history”.

Pro-government newspaper Kulhadd published the story last Sunday, which was then pushed by Labour MPs and government officials to discredit Gomes, who led a European Parliament mission to investigate the rule of law in Malta following the release of the Panama Papers.

Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, was particularly enthusiastic about taunting Gomes with the news, without bothering to check the source of the claim or its veracity.

The ‘European Union Anti-Corruption’ was criticised after it posted articles supporting the Polish ruling Party while attacking critics. In fact, the site has only a few articles, some propping up repressive regimes and others targeting their critics.

The site’s social media account started off with a different username and profile photo last August. It was called out soon after for using a profile photo of a middle aged male model after the same face appeared on a bus advertising something different.

“These attacks are by the government,” Gomes said in the European Parliament today, echoing statements by government critics and journalists in Malta holding the government to account.

This was not the first time that Cutajar took to Twitter to taunt Gomes, who led a European Parliament mission to investigate the rule of law in Malta following the release of the Panama Papers and the identification of top government officials having opened companies in secret jurisdictions only a few days after being elected.

Gomes has since been openly critical of the Maltese government’s actions in undermining the rule of law and failures in the investigation on the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Gomes reinforced those statements in the European Parliament debate on the rule of law in Malta today. She hit out at the “two proven corrupt crooks” in the Maltese government, referring to Tourism Minister Keith Schembri and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri named in the Panama Papers.

She said that revelations in the press that followed continued to confirm the web of corruption around the government’s top officials, most recently in relation to 17 Black, which confirmed the two were “crooks and criminals”. She added that she could not understand why Prime Minister Joseph Muscat continued to protect them.

She delivered a scathing criticism of the Maltese government’s actions following the journalist’s assassination. “Leads that should have led to people being interrogated were not followed… Then the government continues the tremendous hate campaign against the family and critics,” she said.

The European Parliament debate was based on the latest report by another MEP delegation to Malta led by Dutch MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld. Presenting the report, the MEP said, “the situation in Malta is very, very troubling. I am personally deeply concerned”.

As if to prove Gomes’ point, the news platform of the Party in government in Malta – the Labour Party’s ONE news – picked up on misinformation the government is accused of planting to say that Sophia in ‘t Veld showed Gomes to be a “liar”.

Sophia in ‘t Veld said she was informed that the statements by witnesses on Economy Minister Chris Cardona’s links to the suspects arrested in connection with the journalist’s assassination was “disproven”. She was referring to an article published in Malta Today by Saviour Balzan, and later pushed on its sister newspaper Illum, based on “police leaks” that were later discredited in parliament.

PN MEP Roberta Metsola, who forms part of the delegation, stressed the need to step up the fight against corruption. “It’s been 400 days since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death. At the time she was working on several significant anti-corruption investigations. Those she exposed remain at the highest ranks of government,” Metsola said.

400 days of impunity

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