Updated Sunday am with Repubblika spoof

News websites Newsbook and Net News as well as civil society group Repubblika's site, are the latest victims of a website spoofing attack bearing similar hallmarks to the one against blogger and activist Manuel Delia.

Spoof Newsbook, Net News and Manuel Delia websites were all registered this week using the same domain registration service.

The spoof websites, at first glance, appear identical to the genuine ones they are seeking to replicate.

All appear geared towards seeding doubts about the prosecution's cases against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech and attacking the credibility of those fighting for justice in these cases.

Fenech has been indicted for his alleged role in the assassination of the journalist in October 2017 and was this week charged with attempting to import grenades and other weapons.

An article on the spoof Newsbook website sets it sights on Daphne Caruana Galizia family lawyer Jason Azzopardi, who has in recent days butted heads with Fenech and his lawyers. It claims that the lawyer "allegedly accepted expensive gifts from people he called mafiosi".

The article published on the fake Net News website, also targeting Azzopardi, claims drug use and treatment for addiction.

Police report filed

Azzopardi said in a Facebook post that he has reported the matter to the police. 

Newsbook editor Joe Borg said they too would be filing a report, as will the Nationalist Party.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech called on the Prime Minister to discuss ways of strengthening police resources to tackle this form of cybercrime, warning that deliberate attempts to undermine journalism should be fought forcefully.

“This is another instance of the coordinated strategy to try to undermine the free media in Malta.

“Ironically this is happening at a time when we are commemorating the birthday of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was murdered due to her journalistic work,” Borg told Times of Malta. 

A spoof of Delia’s blog goes a step further, claiming that the prosecution of Fenech on weapons importation charges is based on fake e-mails.

‘These [weapon’] orders are said to have been ‘spoofed’ to make it appear Yorgen Fenech ordered them,” the spoof Manuel Delia website claims.

The spoof website even says the Bitcoin wallet used by Fenech to pay for the weapons was itself “spoofed”.

Both the Newsbook and Manuel Delia spoof websites use similar language which the article says are based on “well-informed sources”.

The spoof article seeking to cast doubts on Fenech’s weapons prosecution falsely claims that blockchain technology behind Bitcoin payments “is public and therefore easy to manipulate by external parties”.

A banner on the spoof Manuel Delia website declares: “We will no longer tolerate it! We stand up against the criminal NGOs and authorities! I will announce the place and date soon.”

'The best lawyers in Malta'

The spoof website also carries an article describing Fenech’s lawyers as “the best lawyers in Malta”.

“I am very grateful to the Police Commissioner Angelo Gaffa [sic] for not going public with the emails between Jason Azzopardi and Keith Schembri.

"If these e-mail messages were to come out, [lawyer] Charles Mercieca would have even more mud to throw. I sincerely hope that the Commissioner sticks to his wise decision and does not release the emails,” the spoof Manuel Delia article about ‘the best lawyers in Malta’ says. 


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