Updated 4.05pm with Casa reaction
Malta Today co-owner Saviour Balzan shows up as the "author" of two letters sent by a former aide to David Casa about alleged irregularities in the MEP's finances.
Electronic copies of the letters seen by the Times of Malta show they were drafted on Mr Balzan's computer the night before his newspaper published a story about their contents.
An e-mail seen by Times of Malta shows the two letters were sent to the former Casa aide by Mr Balzan at 8pm on October 20.
The document properties of the two letters show they were written shortly before Mr Balzan e-mailed them to the aide.
The following day, Malta Today ran a front page splash about the letters, in which the former Casa aide offered to give information to the Attorney General and Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud agency.
The former aide to Mr Casa has made two separate allegations about Mr Casa, which were both broken by Malta Today.
In the first, he claimed the MEP used to spend hundreds of euros on cocaine binges in Maltese hotels between 2009 and 2017. In the second, the aide alleged that the MEP inflated the salary of one of his assistants, in order to claim the maximum €100,000 allowance provided by the European Parliament.
'My office used for confidentiality' - Balzan
Asked why he shows up as the author of these two letters, and whether he actually verified they were sent before running a story about them, Mr Balzan admitted that the letters were written from his office.
"After considering the statements made by the whistleblower, the drafting of the affidavit and verification of statements and other evidence was made in my office, to give this whistleblower maximum confidentiality.
"In the course of our meetings, the whistleblower has used office equipment to draft statements: this does not change anything from the substance of the story or this person's willingness to speak to the EU's anti-fraud agency OLAF," Mr Balzan said.
The Malta Today co-owner said the former Casa aide had been under much pressure since speaking to his newspaper, with efforts from party sources close to the MEP attempting to dissuade and discredit this person from exercising their right to speak to OLAF.
"It is important that this whistleblower does not get discredited by the press simply to defend the indefensible actions of an elected politician," Mr Balzan.
Mr Balzan's replies to the Times of Malta's queries were also published on Malta Today's website, under the headline 'Times seeks answers as to why Casa whistleblower used Malta Today equipment'.
"Absolutely inexcusable" - Casa
In a statement, Mr Casa said: "I am not shocked by today’s revelations concerning who really wrote the 'whistleblower' letters. It has been clear that, particularly following my work on the leaked FIAU report calling for police action against Konrad Mizzi, I have been a target. But this level of collusion, deceit and fabrication of 'news' is unprecedented and completely inexcusable."
He said the revelation was not an isolated case but "further exposed the systemic targeting of government critics by supposedly independent media acting on orders from Castille".
Mr Casa denounced the "continuous tirade of fabricated nonsense" while pledging to continue working tirelessly to protect investigative journalism.
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