Activists took to the streets on Friday evening demanding to know why the police had moved with such haste to investigate an author for leaking what they say is evidence of corruption but dragging their feet when it comes to accusations against entities like Pilatus Bank, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
On Thursday, a judge demanded legal action be taken against the former book council chair after he published over 2,000 messages exchanged between MP Rosianne Cutajar and businessman Yorgen Fenech.
The exchange details an intense relationship between the pair and also shed light on important information that could imply abuse of power and trading in influence.
A 2021 court order banned the publication of the messages due to their relevance in the ongoing case against Fenech for his alleged role in the murder of journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In a protest organised by rule of law NGO Repubblika, a crowd of people marched down Republic Street in Valletta in solidarity with Camilleri. Waving Maltese flags as they marched silently, activists unfurled a large banner that spanned the width of the street that read “Defend Journalists”.
Speaking at the event, blogger Manuel Delia said that he had been asked by different people why the organisation was protesting for Camilleri when he held different views. Admitting that he himself had written critically of Camilleri in the past, Delia said that when a person fights to uncover corruption with their freedom of expression, it was important to stand in solidarity with them.
He said that the authorities are using the law as a weapon against Camilleri to target him for bringing evidence of corruption to light instead of putting their resources to work to go after the perpetrators of corruption.
“To quote Oliver Friggieri, ‘If you come across an unjust law, break it’. Do not let someone take away your rights and then point to the law as a means to silence you,” Delia said.
He said that Cutajar had sought to make a liar out of Camilleri by suing him and putting the burden of proof on him. But by putting the chats out in the open for everyone to see, Camilleri had shown everyone in the country that he was telling the truth about her.
As for accusations of invasion of privacy, Delia said that no criminal activity takes place in a public forum and in order for justice to be served, wrongdoing must be dragged out into the light.
“We want a country that isn’t governed by the mafia, where journalists don’t have to run from their country, where the institutions move to charge criminals and not the journalists that expose them,” he said.
“We want people to realise that these chats have been exposed to the public because the police have known about them for three years, and have done nothing about a sitting MP saying she’s going to “pig out” because everyone else does it.”
Addressing the crowd via audio link from abroad, Camilleri said that what he did was “nothing out of the ordinary” and that Prime Minister Robert Abela’s continued defence of Cutajar was “destroying the Labour Party”.
“This evidence has been on the shelf for years and no action has ever been taken about it and from the state of things it seems like no action is going to be taken,” he said.
“The prime minister has been clear in his support of criminals, it’s crazy and he must be out of his mind. He has no idea the huge damage he is doing to the Labour Party and the country.
“To defend someone like Rosianne Cutajar after all that evidence, you must not know the extent of the damage you’re doing.”
Camilleri said that he agreed with Delia’s message and that the priority for the country was “to have a normal government and not a criminal one”.
“I think this can happen and the numbers show this. We can have a coalition of people who want a normal country and I have no doubt that we will find a solution that prevents the Labour Party from remaining in government,” he said.
He said while it is personally painful to see the party that he loves being “destroyed”, Labour had unmasked itself as “criminal” and “no longer holding socialist principles”.
“This is not a labour party,” he said.
Camilleri said that all over Europe communities are fostering a stronger sense of unity and common values that are “non-negotiable” and that this is “finally starting to happen in Malta as well”.
“We have to find normality first, then we can talk politics later.”
Repubblika president Robert Aquilina told the assembled crowd he stood with the author and others working to investigate corruption.
“I tell the prime minister that we will be in solidarity with Mark Camilleri... with every journalist, with every activist and with every individual who exposes the dirt that is running in the corridors of power,” said Aquilina in a speech delivered shortly after Camilleri’s address.
Saying the country had been captured by “the mafia octopus,” Aquilina said activists were being targeted when showing proof of corruption.
"They challenge us to bring the evidence and as soon as we bring it, they open fire on us,” he said.
“Those who had been challenging us for years to bring evidence... they tried to break us, they tried to break Daphne Caruana Galizia before us and now they have turned for Mark Camilleri.
“We are not going to let Mark Camilleri fight this fight alone,” he concluded.
In February 2021, Cutajar resigned from her post as Parliamentary Secretary, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life into her ethical conduct with Fenech.
In a statement uploaded to Facebook after announcing her resignation, Cutajar said that she had been subjected to "several unfair attacks", political spin and misleading comments.
“Let me be clear, in the years that I knew Yorgen Fenech, I never used my political posts to influence any process or decision... In my political career I always acted honestly and with integrity,” she wrote.
The prime minister later thanked Cutajar for "putting the interests of the government and the country before her personal interests".