Activist and blogger Manuel Delia revealed he is leaving Malta after receiving threats from those accused of complicity in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder, according to an Italian organisation advocating for freedom of expression.
In an interview with Articolo 21 published on Wednesday, Delia said the European Center for Press and Media Freedom was supporting his stay at “a safe place” abroad until things get better.
"I fear that the idea of an imminent election might lead someone to act on their own initiative and hurt me or my family, deeming it an act of heroism," he told Articolo 21.
Contacted by Times of Malta on Wednesday night, Delia, who is a member of activist group Repubblika, confirmed he will be leaving Malta shortly but did not identify the destination.
“It’s been piling up for some time. I made arrangements after Yorgen Fenech openly called for a criminal investigation into my reporting that same week that I was being impersonated and made to look like I was writing in Fenech’s interest.
“That happened days after I learnt he was planning to sue me in the UK for a sum that even he thought was absurd. Add to that threatening anonymous calls on a near-nightly basis. I want to continue doing my job, but I also have to make sure my family is safe. I have the responsibility to take proportionate precautions. I’m going to work remotely for a while until things are a bit better.”
In August, Delia warned people not to be fooled by fake emails or websites designed to impersonate him.
The fake emails implied that Delia was mentally ill and on medication, and were being sent out by email addresses that spoof the @manueldelia.com domain used by his website.
Fenech categorically denied any direct or indirect involvement in the disinformation campaign.
Delia told Articolo 21 he had been informed Fenech wanted to sue him in London for £70,000 – a sum that would have spelt the death of his job as a journalist, which he took on when Caruana Galizia was assassinated.
In the interview, he said his wife had already been assaulted in public by Labour Party supporters, and appreciated the comfort given to him by fellow journalists.
Apart from being threatened by criminals “inside and outside prison”, he also feared the atmosphere of impunity in Malta.
“These criminals are empowered by a ruling party that exists to preserve its power and runs its own media house to discredit people like me.
Delia cited the "fictional" stories broadcast about him on the Labour Party's TV station almost weekly, even several times a week.
"I am accused of controlling the opposition party like puppets on my strings, which is similar to the demonisation Daphne used to receive...
“If I lose credibility and I’m seen as an enemy of power-hungry people, I will be cut off from readers and the citizens I serve. Once I’m isolated, I’m in danger. It would be irresponsible of me to remain unafraid," he told Articolo 21.
Delia also mentioned the fact he had been sued for SLAPP (along with Times of Malta) by a Bulgarian banker.
"In addition to low pay and job insecurity, bullies use the courts or even the threat of legal action to stop us."
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