The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Thursday asked Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to drop his libel lawsuit against murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The New York-based CPJ is a non-profit organisation made up of around 40 experts who seek to promote press freedom worldwide.
The libel lawsuit revolves around a report by Ms Caruana Galizia alleging that Dr Muscat’s wife was the ultimate beneficial owner of offshore company Egrant.
The blogger also reported that Egrant had received a payment of over €1 million from a Dubai company owned by Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev.
The Prime Minister called the report “the biggest political lie in Malta’s history” and initiated an investigation into the allegations.
In a letter sent on World Press Freedom Day, the organisation asked Dr Muscat to drop the libel case “as a personal affirmation of his commitment to justice”.
The organisation also said that the libel cases place an unjust burden on the late journalist’s family.
As a personal affirmation of his commitment to justice
Continuing to pursue the case diminishes the Prime Minister’s commitment to bringing Mrs Caruana Galizia’s killers to justice, the CPJ said.
The organisation also asked Dr Muscat to urge other government members to drop their libel cases against Ms Caruana Galizia.
The family inherited no fewer than 37 lawsuits from of the slain journalist.
The letter was forwarded to US Ambassador Kathleen Hill, Permanent representative of Malta to the EU Marlene Bonnici and the head of European Commission Representation Elena Grech.
In the letter, CPJ executive director Joel Simon also lambasted Dr Muscat’s “veiled threat” against the Daphne Project and against those “who have been caught lying to smear Malta’s name”.
Dr Muscat was also criticised for “downplaying the project’s significance” by referring to Daphne Project reports as stories that were rehashed.
“This reaction to an international journalistic investigation is unbecoming of a European leader who says he is working to get justice for Mrs Caruana Galizia, just as the Daphne Project aims to do,” Mr Simon wrote.