(Journalist from Malta, JiR in 2021)
„The ECPMF has already come to my rescue one time before. I faced a cross-border SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) from a banker I had written about and would not have been able to put up a defence in a different country without their financial and legal help.
I was here in Leipzig participating in their fellowship programme when I got the news that I won that SLAPP on appeal. But that wasn’t the reason I was here.
With several other journalists, I have spent the past four years working on the story of the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s foremost anti-corruption reporter executed by a car bomb. On that beat I put questions to Yorgen Fenech, one of Malta’s richest men, about his relationship with Daphne’s killers. They were the first questions he faced that implied there was suspicion that he had been involved in the murder. Weeks after the publication of that story, he was arrested and charged with masterminding the murder.
Over time, I faced harassment. Some of it in court through actions by Yorgen Fenech’s legal team, but much of it anonymously. My website and my email account were spoofed making it look like I had lost control of my mental faculties. My phone was besieged by anonymous messages, including threats and harassment.
What’s worse was that instead of being the reporter, I had become the story. Nothing would make the real criminals happier.
The fellowship in Leipzig allowed me to step back from the frontline for a while, work on my mental health, get help and training, and organise myself so that I can do my job as a journalist better. I feel much stronger going back.
The people who want us to shut up will find new ways of intimidating or distracting us. It is, however, invigorating to know we have a friend in the ECPMF.”