Putting things in perspective

I woke up to a stream of emails this morning interrogating me about why we have not dropped everything to support Manuel Delia in his claim that he is leaving the island “for his safety”.

Press freedom and the protection of journalists is certainly our cause. But I’m always surprised that those who praise our process in getting the facts to them expect us to suddenly drop everything and support claims without question when it’s ‘their people’.

As I’ve told those who emailed or called, we don’t sink our process based on who is making the statement. We question everything and everyone, and it’s on that basis that we take a stand. And that’s what we did with Manuel Delia’s statement.

So I know that what Manuel is taking up is a temporary 6-month programme in a European city where he can continue to do his work while being paid a salary to take ‘a break’. I know this because the offer of the same programme was discussed with me.

I have benefitted from such programmes before, but never in my wildest dreams would I have sold this in the same way.

Any journalist who has faced any serious threat knows that you don’t announce your departure. And if it’s a serious threat, you certainly don’t leave your family behind.

I have spent six months with a security officer glued to my side. It was never announced because that breaches security protocols. When I’ve been taken out of the country for my protection, nobody knew. And I have no children I am leaving behind…

These are the facts: Repubblika Executive Officer and blogger Manuel Delia announced to an Italian organisation that he’s being forced to flee Malta after having received death threats aimed at himself and his family.

I called Delia to make sure I am not undermining the threats he is facing. What he mentioned is the web spoofs, which targeted other newsrooms. He also referred to a SLAPP case in chats involving Yorgen Fenech that happened years ago, even if we found out about them now when the person behind it is already in jail.

We noticed in his reply to the Italian journalist’s question about how he earns a living, Delia said he depends on the donations from his readers and gets by with the help of his wife. Nowhere did he mention that he’s an employee of Repubblika, receiving a full time salary, whatever the amount may be.

As investigative journalists exposing wrongdoing wherever it happens, we are often the targets of threats, insults, lies and defamation. These are dealt with as they happen, and we carry on with our work to the best of our abilities, undeterred by the daily onslaught. When and if those threats become serious enough to require action to be taken, we take it.

It’s damaging to the cause of truth and justice for assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia if we blow our opportunities provided to us to do our work.

Delia’s efforts in Caruana Galizia’s cause have been valuable, but indulging in this appeal to public sympathy can only deepen the mistrust towards the media, and, in consequence, towards the entire campaign for justice for Daphne.

We’ve always told you we will speak the truth, no matter who’s involved.

                           
                               
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kev
kev
25 days ago

This guy is as fake as they come. Let’s see him take court action if this is not true. He won’t of course.

Juliette G.
Juliette G.
23 days ago
Reply to  kev

libel is archaic and ineffective IF the aim is the content of what is being said. The right of reply as per the media and defamation act is way more adequate and timely.

Chris
Chris
25 days ago

No doubt Manuel Delia will provide his own perspective. He does claim he is not the only one receiving death threats. And this is most certainly believable. We do not know whether the offer to take up a 6-month programme was offered to him following the death threats, do we? I agree with Caroline though that announcing his departure diminishes the threat levels he’s presumbly under. I’m not reading this as a particularly black and white straightforward matter.

Victor Zammit
Victor Zammit
24 days ago

Well, this certainly provides a different perspective and raises some very valid questions.

I would caution, however, one to restrain oneself from rushing into condemnation. Let us bear in mind that Mr Delia has been the subject of nigh unbearable pressure, as have others; and as he himself has said, it does take a toll. While the revelation that payment is to be provided to Mr Delia does come out as a bombshell to me, I believe that if there is any shortcoming from his part, it is only that it was not disclosed in the interview.

I have no doubt, having heard Mr Delia speak on several occasions and being a follower of his blog, that he is convinced that his life is in danger. This should be crystal clear to everyone after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. When an offer like this comes along, in such an environment it would be inconceivable not to at least give it serious due consideration and I certainly refute the notion that Mr Delia essentially took a paid break and called it exile (my paraphrasing). I will say why. While I agree with Ms Muscat that leaving one’s family behind in such a situation raises questions, it would otherwise be downright deceit. Having followed the man for some time, I am sure he is not the type.

I agree with Ms Muscat’s conclusion. My take-away is that the result of this whole issue is that there exists more potential for damage to the cause for Justice. Let us not, however, repeat the mistake that as a society we committed when we allowed Daphne to become isolated and created the environment that led to her murder. Mr Delia needs our solidarity and our support now more than he has ever needed it. Let us wait for what he has to say, but whether his answers be justified or not, let us put no preconditions and give him our full support… or in a few months our collective hands may become stained again. Those are the stakes we live with.

James
James
24 days ago

A fine piece of considered journalism which puts things into a clear and concise structure.

Of course when people are emotionally involved as a result of injustice, be that perceived or real, it is human nature to kick out at those who are attempting to derail attempts to obtain justice.

The only way justice can be obtained is by telling the truth and supplying evidence to demonstrate that you are telling truth with facts to support it.

Whether that applies in Malta is a moot point, but credit to you and your team for not wavering from your mission!

Keep the examples of the excesses within the Government circles coming in the unshakable belief that eventually truth will out.

Daphne was right and the world is increasingly aware of that fact and the fight for justice cannot stop.

John Cordina
John Cordina
24 days ago

There are many issues I do not agree with Delia about and this is one of them. Right from the start I did not take the threats seriously and figured out something else was afoot. His nostalgia for those “glorious” Fenech Adami years I find off-putting and perhaps very naïve.

I agree with you. If sympathy is what Delia was after then this was a mistake. However I can understand that the stress of dealing with threats no matter how weak these may be will have its toll. As a parent I can understand having constant worry children and wife be targeted for what I honestly find simple plain logic and right. Perhaps the man wanted a break from it all.

Irrespective of how much I disagree with an independent blogger and/or journalist I believe we need them especially on this small island. Its double hard here to keep unbiased opinion. And by biased I mean pandering to the crowd that butters your daily bread.

There is a difference between bloggers and/or journalists who push their agenda and those who push their agenda but understand truth and reality as well.

Manuel Delia manages to do just that. I will be plain and say I do not like Kevin Cassar or Ryan Murdoc for example. As far as I’m concerned these two especially have their own personal agenda and either believe it with medieval catholic zeal or keep it going because it serves their purpose somehow.

No matter what the case may be and no matter how well intentioned bloggers and/or journalists may be we need plurality of thought to stick around otherwise there would be just two voices. That of the party in government and that of the party in opposition.

We all know how well that goes.

Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
24 days ago

I am disappointed by this article. A man who faces daily death threats decides to leave the country for a period of time. He uses his journalist contacts to arrange a six month survival kit. What does one expect him to do? To beg for food in front of the Statue of David for the duration? The mistrust referred to here is provoked by a tendency to expect others to line up to our own set of values without accepting that our individual experiences are not and cannot be the same.

Philip Hudson
Philip Hudson
24 days ago

Thankyou for a factual ‘matter of fact ” non emotive explanation. I want to support and “trust” in Manuel’s editorials so based on your article I urge him to be more transparent about his motives. People will support him or not based upon his integrity, not only his opinions. In some ways the people that read his blogs are ” the converted being preached to ” so need to sensationalise the motives for his actions. I hope he appreciates the amount of good will he already receives and does not fall into the trap of so many others of assuming that he has a captive audience..ask Christian G what he thinks about this..I am sure it would be interesting. Thankyou Caroline for all your efforts and keeping the light on !

Tony Cassar
Tony Cassar
24 days ago

Wow!! Impressive!! Thank you for feeling the need to reveal certain details and give such an honest explanation. “Honesty is the best policy” Indeed! It’s truly a pity that not everyone believes in this exemplary policy! “Respect is earned; honesty is appreciated (and rare especially nowadays);trust is gained and loyalty is returned”! To be honest, although I’m an avid reader of this site, and at times I had a few doubts/disagreements about certain arguments of certain articles, with this specific article I’m impressed as you have ticked all the boxes! E Pluribus Unum! Thank you and please keep it up!

Franco Galea
Franco Galea
24 days ago

These kind of destructive articles aimed at destroying fellow campaigners are the reason why we will be lumped up with labour all our life. The over reaction eclipses whatever half truths Delia might have said. Thank you Caroline. Not!

Ramon Saguna
Ramon Saguna
24 days ago

Well said

Ian
Ian
24 days ago

This article pains me a lot, Caroline and Manuel are two of the only five or six persons on this damned island who I truly admire and rely on to get my information from. When I see one contradicting the other, I can only imagine Joseph Muscat, Robert Abela and their cronies smirking, laughing and rubbing their hands in delight.

I have no reason to doubt Caroline but the article is a bit too succinct and provokes a number of questions.

What is this “temporary 6-month programme”? Who is it ‘offered’ to? By whom is it offered? Why did Manuel ‘sell it’ the way he did? Why didn’t he mention he was being paid by Repubblika to Articolo 21?

Malta is full of people you wouldn’t trust to hold the door while you peed. Heaven forbid that I am forced to doubt even those five or six people I mentioned above.

George Cassar
George Cassar
24 days ago
Reply to  Ian

An answer to some of your question is very simple: Manuel Delia wants to take us for a ride and insult our intelligence. Thank you Caroline for telling as it really is.

Yosanne Vella
Yosanne Vella
24 days ago

I’m stunned. Both by this article and by Delia’s action. Not sure what to think about both.

Sciberras
Sciberras
24 days ago

You are right.

Eduard Azzopardi
Eduard Azzopardi
24 days ago

For me the truth is in the middle, but it’s sad that this “struggle” is brought out in the press.
The only ones who gain and are very happy this is the Gahan-party, sometimes, it is better to turn your tongue (fingers) a few times around before using it (them), the damage is done and hopefully it will not remain.

Raymond Gerada
Raymond Gerada
24 days ago

So after all the ‘gahans’ in Malta are not all red coloured.

Juliette G.
Juliette G.
23 days ago

Hi Caroline,

Had you not written this article, I would not have had a fuller picture yesterday. What you have done is honest and brave. I find it repulsive that the matter has now turned myopically personal on the media: Irrespective of Mr Delia’s honesty or otherwise in relation to the source of his income as well as the nature of the threats, the issue is whether or not journalists are protected in Malta.

You write that you yourself have passed through the experience of having the need for protection/security and that some form was provided.

Is security available for journalists in Malta? Do they have a contact point? How is pressure exerted on journalists in Malta? What form do threats take? What is your perception of the current level of support\services offered by the journalism institutes? what can be done?

I’d appreciate your take on things.

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