‘Get Whatsapp’, they said. It’s ‘safe and secure’, they said...

And try as I might: I struggle to see very much ‘positive value’, in a course of action that may well end up jeopardising – in not actually ‘derailing’ - the entire Daphne Caruana Galizia murder trial...

Say what you like about the events of the past few days, but one thing’s for sure. They didn’t exactly amount to very good publicity, for that supposedly ‘safe and secure’ communications device known as... ‘Whatsapp’.

Yet just a couple of years ago, I was advised – by one of my more tech-savvy friends – that: “Whatsapp was the way to go, for anyone who valued their (cough, splutter) PRIVACY!” What followed was a eulogy of its encryption algorithms: and how ‘foolproof’ they were, against even the most advanced of contemporary hacking technologies.

The result, I was assured, was a communications app that was so utterly ‘safe’, that: “not even NASA, or the C.I.A., could possibly hack into your private messages anymore!”

Hmmm. Yeah, well, try telling that to Rosianne Cutajar, and see what sort of reaction you get. But assuming that her reply would probably be unprintable, anyway: I’ll just give you mine instead.

‘Safe and secure’, my left bloody foot! Honestly, though: has no else ever noticed the curious little coincidence, whereby practically every single ‘scandal’ (little or large) to have materialised in this country, over the past five or so years, has either originated from, or somehow involved, leaks from people’s supposedly ‘private, encrypted’, Whatsapp chats?

Remember that clip of Joseph and Michelle Muscat, caught unawares during a rowdy celebration at Girgenti Palace, that had caused so much uproar in February 2021? Well, that was leaked from an equally ‘safe and secure’ Whatsapp message, too.

Then there was that notorious ‘Gahan’ incident, in which former Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis had described his own party’s supporters as (the equivalent of) ‘village idiots’, in similarly leaked chats.

As it happens, those chats were also with one and the same Yorgen Fenech: who has since been arrested (and, in case anyone’s forgotten, is currently on trial) for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

And, oh look! The same is also true for BOTH occasions, when Adrian Delia’s ‘private’ chats also got themselves splashed out all over the media. In 2019 – and then again, in 2021 – his own Whatsapp communications with Yorgen Fenech were likewise revealed in public (resulting in the former PN leader ‘asking the police commissioner to investigate the source of the leak’: another little detail, it seems, that everyone has since ‘forgotten’)...

Which also means, by the way, that in all three of the cases linked with Yorgen Fenech – Adrian Delia,  Edward Zammit Lewis, and now Rosianne Cutajar  – we are also talking about ‘private messages’ that were:

a) part of the material evidence that had been collected by the prosecution, for use in the (ongoing) ‘compilation of evidence’ stage of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder trial;

b) supposedly subject to all the routine security procedures, involved in keeping such evidence ‘safe’ from - among other things - being ‘tampered with’, or somehow rendered ‘inadmissible’;

And lastly, c) subject to a very specific court order, issued in November 2021, AGAINST the publication - in whole or in part - of the self-same ‘Yorgen Fenech chats’.

ALL of them, please note. In other words: not just those chats between Yorgen Fenech and, say, certain ‘politicians’ - or even certain ‘lovers’, for that matter – of our own ‘choosing’. But every single Whatsapp conversation that Yorgen Fenech ever had, with anyone at all, in the two or three years leading up to his 2019 arrest. (It was, after all, his entire electronic communication database – and not just his ‘chats with Rosianne’ - that the police were looking for, when they confiscated all his mobile devices).

And given that – before his sudden ‘fall from grace’, in November 2019 – the same Yorgen Fenech had been practically the toast of Malta’s entire business and political communities (with absolutely everybody, it seems, desperately trying to claw for themselves a little slice of the Portomaso Empire)...

I mean: it does makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Not just about the precise levels of ‘safety, privacy and security’, that are actually provided by online platforms such as Whatsapp (which, at the end of the day, are only ever as ‘safe and secure’, as the person you’re using them to actually chat with...)

No, the question that troubles me a whole lot more, is: if ALL the information, from Yorgen Fenech’s entire pre-2019 Whatsapp message-history, is so very easily accessible that – never mind NASA; never mind the CIA – it can effortlessly be ‘acquired’, even by someone like Mark Camilleri...

... in other words: by someone who – regardless what his own opinion of himself may be – is very literally just a case of: ‘one man, and his blog’...

I almost hate to even ask, but: how much more of that cache of Yorgen Fenech chats - which, may I remind you, was supposed to be under lock and key, in a vault somewhere in the Law-Courts: to be safeguarded as highly-valuable evidence, in an ongoing murder trial, etc. – has also been disseminated, to just about anyone who asked for it, since 2019? To be used by whom... and for what particular ‘purpose’, exactly?

Now: in Mark Camilleri’s own case, at least, the ‘purpose’ part is clear enough. He published those chats, merely to prove the allegation he had made earlier in his book (and over which Cutajar herself had – unwisely, with hindsight – sued him for libel). Nothing more complicated than that, really...

But if others have equal access to the same, highly sensitive material: who knows what other ‘purposes’ those chats could be used for? Who knows, in a nuthsell, how many people out there are being ‘blackmailed’ – even now, as we speak - because of their own ‘pre-2019 Whatsapp communications with Yorgen Fenech’?

Not a very comfortable thought, is it? And it only gets worse, when you also remember how Yorgen Fenech’s legal team had reacted, the last time parts of the same cache had been ‘leaked’ to the press.

In the Edward Zammit Lewis case, they had accused Jason Azzopardi of “of being in breach of a court order banning the leaking of Yorgen Fenech’s chats.” And earlier still – when significant sections of the press chose to blatantly disregard another court-order: this time, against breaching Yorgen Fenech’s ‘fundamental human right to the presumption of innocence’ – they responded by filing a Constitutional case, claiming that the entire case against their client was a ‘mistrial’.

Now: I am by no means acquainted enough, with Malta’s legal system, to predict what impact Camilleri’s actions will actually have, on the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder itself.

But what I certainly can predict, from now, is that: all these continual ‘leaks’, and ‘direct breaches of court orders’, in the Yorgen Fenech case – whether by Mark Camilleri himself, or anyone else – are simply giving more ‘ammunition’, to help Fenech’s defence team secure an acquittal.

And try as I might: I struggle to see very much ‘positive value’, in a course of action that may well end up jeopardising – in not actually ‘derailing’ - the entire Daphne Caruana Galizia murder trial...