The Pegasus Project, an investigative project by Forbidden Stories, was on Thursday awarded the first-ever Daphne Caruana Galizia journalism prize at a ceremony in Brussels
Times of Malta journalist Jacob Borg's story unmasking the owner of secret company Macbridge was among the top 15 finalists out of hundreds of entries in the inaugural award to honour the murdered journalist.
Published in March, the shortlisted story revealed that a China energy negotiator in the Enemalta deals was behind the once-secret company Macbridge. Times of Malta had worked on the investigation together with Reuters and other journalism partners.
Watch the ceremony live.
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The winning entry had involved an investigation by more than 80 reporters into an unprecedented leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance by the customers of the Israeli company NSO Group that showed how the technology had been systematically abused for years.
The consortium will also be receiving €20,000 prize money. The trophy handed to the winners was created by Maltese sculptor Noel Galea Baso.
Even if you kill the messenger, you can never kill the message.- Laurent Richard
Accepting the award, Laurent Richard, Founder of Forbidden Stories, said the accolade meant "a lot".
"Four years ago, your mother was killed Matthew and you had told me that you wanted to continue with her work," she said, addressing the murdered journalist's son.
"This is what we did with the Daphne Project. We need to work together so that people can access information. That's why we teamed up and that is how we work...that is the mission of Forbidden Stories.
"Even if you kill the messenger, you can never kill the message. That is why we are here today," she said.
The award is aimed at rewarding outstanding journalism that promotes or defends the core principles and values of the EU such as human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights.
A second Maltese entry, by The Shift’s Caroline Muscat was also one of the 15 finalists.
This is the first year the prize has been awarded. Two of Caruana Galizia's sons, Andrew and Matthew, attended the award ceremony, opened by European Parliament president David Sassoli as the fourth anniversary of the murder approaches.
Professional journalists and teams of journalists were urged to submit in-depth pieces published or broadcast by media based in one of the 27 member states.
The winner was chosen by an independent jury composed of representatives of the press and civil society from the member states and representatives of the main European associations of journalism.
In his opening remarks, Sassoli described Caruana Galizia as an extraordinary journalist who "asked the difficult questions and was courageous and tenacious".
"Daphne contributed to a renaissance of investigative journalism," he said.
The murder of Daphne was a turning point for European journalism, politics, and societies, Sassoli said.
"It really touched the core of the EU. We shouldn’t forget the rights and privileges cannot be taken for granted. They are not written in stone and were achieved through hard work.
"We have to fight to be better."
In a tweet later, MEP David Casa said Europe needs more Forbidden Stories.
He said the prize should serve as an eye-opener to all who threaten and try to silence and murder journalists and democracies in all the EU states.
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