Updated 12.20pm with PN reaction

Journalists were stopped from leaving Castille following Friday morning's 3am press conference as security waited for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to leave the building before allowing members of the media to leave.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called a press conference at 3am, after an urgent six-hour Cabinet meeting was held on Thursday night.

Dr Muscat told local and international press, who spent the night outside Castille,  that businessman Yorgen Fenech  - a suspect in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia - would not be granted a presidential pardon. Dr Muscat said he had left the room to allow ministers to decide without him present.

When the press conference ended Dr Muscat walked into an adjoining room, as is common practice. Meanwhile, men who claimed to be security officers closed the doors of the room where the press conference was held and did not allow journalists to leave until Dr Muscat was escorted out of Castille. This lasted for a few minutes.

Paul Caruana Galizia, a journalist and one of the sons of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, said this was "unacceptable" and told the security officer blocking the door, "who do you think you are?"

Another journalist described it as constituting illegal arrest.

Meanwhile, a small group of journalists waiting by the side entrance of Castille were not allowed to speak to ministers leaving the building as the area was completely barricaded by police.

Earlier in the evening the press was blocked by barriers from getting near the door of Castille. Journalists were then called into Castille for the news conference. But there was a rush as protesters tried to come in with the reporters.

The protesters started gathering outside Castille after police issued a statement saying they the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri – who resigned from his post on Tuesday -  has been released from arrest in connection with the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder.  In a statement, the police said they had no need to detain Mr Schembri under arrest any longer.

News of his release emerged within minutes of the lawyers of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech saying that the businessman was prepared to give information on Mr Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona, in return for a conditional presidential pardon. Mr Fenech claimed Mr Schembri was behind Ms Caruana Galizia's assassination in October 2017. He has also filed a Constitutional case against authorities, seeking to have the lead investigator in the case removed.

Opposition calls on Police Commissioner to investigate

The Opposition "strongly condemned" the incident, urging immediate action from the Police Commissioner.

It said that the individuals blocking the journalists' way out were not authorised to do so.

"Such practices can never be justified in supposedly democratic countries," the PN said in a satement.

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