When Mark Camilleri asked me for a €100,000 interest-free loan

To purposely take one set of privileged chats, intentionally leaving all the other exchanges out, and publish without context whatsoever, is outright diabolical and criminal

I have said what I have to say on Yorgen Fenech, Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat in May of last year, and I will not bore readers with more solemn declarations. 

I cannot apologise for being what I am, or for nurturing acquaintances as a media owner and journalist.   

But enough is enough, and since it is war that Jason Azzopardi wants, then this is what war looks like. 

I have over the years purposely ignored what is said about me, since the days when Daphne Caruana Galizia started her writings in the 1990s when she pounded me and took me to the cleaners together with my family and friends. It was part of the job. 

I do not expect to be treated with kids’ gloves but the leak of the Yorgen Fenech chats, particularly those involving me, is all about an obsession to attack me and MaltaToday. 

It helps to understand that until his arrest and charges related to the Caruana Galizia murder in November 2019, Fenech was considered by many, including politicians of all hues and shades, to be one of Malta’s top bona fide businessmen and in my case also a former student and friend. 

Now, to purposely take one set of privileged chats, intentionally leaving all the other exchanges out, and publish without context whatsoever, is outright diabolical and criminal. 

But let us tackle the two individuals behind all this – Mark Camilleri and Jason Azzopardi. 

A literary terrorist 

Mark Camilleri, the former Book Council CEO, is not a journalist; he is a literary terrorist. 

He does not distinguish between news and gossip and is hungry for money and is simply driven by hate, retribution, blackmail and clickbait. 

In July 2013 after years hitting out at the Nationalist administration, he was given a direct appointment as the CEO of the National Book Council by Joseph Muscat himself. 

There was no call for applications, but a direct appointment. I guess that is OK for Mark but not for others. 

In 2013, Camilleri thought Muscat was God’s gift to mankind. Many people did. Those who made the wrong judgements, including myself will have to live with it for the rest of their life. But at least I can admit to making a bad judgement. 

Until 2021, well after the Panama Papers scandal, the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the arrest of Yorgen Fenech, Camilleri kept his well-oiled position at the Book Council, until he was unceremoniously removed from the post under Robert Abela. 

Plagued with financial problems of his own including some very bad trades with crypto currencies (one of the most dubious forms of financial dealings around) he moved to Spain and from his abode he started a blog venting his anger against everything associated with Robert Abela and anyone he simply did not like. 

I never engaged or confronted him. When he asked me for a donation for his book – A rent seeker’s Paradise – I unwisely donated €250. Well before that when he applied for a job as a journalist to work with MaltaToday I had interviewed him. I did not take him on. 

My only mistake was accepting to interview him. 

Sponsorships from ministers 

Mark Camilleri’s financial pressures have made him turn on people. He has been receiving sponsorships/donations from some ministries and ministers after he personally pestered them.  If you want to know who these ministers are all you need to do is check out who is portrayed in a good light on his blog and who is not mentioned at all. 

Earlier last year, he made it known to one of the editors at MaltaToday that he was in possession of Yorgen Fenech chats with me and that he would publish them. He went into a rant about MaltaToday receiving government funds (everyone does) and how he does not.  How he is based in Spain, operating a one-man show and basing his writing on mudslinging – all of which was of course beside the point. 

When he faced a criminal reprimand from the courts that he was publishing privileged information unrelated to the Yorgen Fenech case, he retreated but pestered my editors that he wanted to talk to me. 

What followed were long emails about how much he loved me and respected me but that he disagreed with MaltaToday accepting support from the State (in the form of advertising, may I add). 

I have no qualms saying that I do not love him, in fact I find him revolting, repulsive and sickening. 

But the cherry on the cake came when he asked me for €100,000.  I asked him to put his demand in an email. I reproduce the email Mark Camilleri sent me below, verbatim: 

“I can offer a long-term partnership and an alliance against loan funding of €100,000. I can become a regular columnist for MaltaToday contributing a hard-hitting and good column every Sunday. This will elevate MaltaToday above all other papers with my value and as a result and increase your numbers significantly. I will be directing my traffic to MaltaToday. So, instead of paying high interest rates for the loan, I'll provide you with contributions and collaboration. You would be making money on the loan and getting valuable contributions.  
The arrangement would be similar to the one that Daphne had with the Malta Independent where she has her own operation going on, but at the same time contributes every Sunday to the newspaper and collaborates closely with the newsroom. 

I am so far Malta's only investigative journalist who understands finance deeply well. For example, I am the only investigative journalist who is investigating Bank of Valletta. Malta lacks proper financial journalism, and I can provide this to you.  
Thank you and look forward to keep building our relationship together.” 

I did not accept to give Mark Camilleri, a wannabee Daphne, one euro cent let alone €100,000. And I will not even consider it in 100 years. 

Soon after, when it was clear that there would no loan advanced from my part, Mark Camilleri launched a tirade against me and MaltaToday, accusing me of all sorts of things. His most popular was and is that I was ‘sleeping’ in the same bed as Robert Abela. 

Last year, Camilleri had written to the Committee of Media experts, asking about my credentials and together with the holier than thou bunch, promoted the image that I was a stooge for government. 

I thank the committee’s chairman, retired judge Michael Mallia (who also led the Caruana Galizia public inquiry) for having stood up for me. 

At the end of the day, the committee’s proposals are there for all to see. They are radical, far reaching and in favour of true freedom. The final report, which was eventually tabled in parliament last October, addresses most of the grievances that had been raised and proposes the necessary steps to have a free and healthy press. 


Throughout all this period, it was Jason Azzopardi, the former Nationalist MP, who egged on Mark Camilleri to hit out at me. 

I kept my cool and let the whole episode unfold. But now they have crossed a line. 

The SLAPP action from Steward International against MaltaToday and which contributed to increasing our visibility as a media house under threat, was too much to digest for Jason Azzopardi and Mark Camilleri, so they decided to launch an offensive with the publication of all the Yorgen Fenech chats. 

But let me rewind to May last year. 

It became obvious to me that Mark Camilleri’s threat to publish my chats at the same time that he was asking for a €100,000 interest-free loan was an attempt to extort money. I did not want to play ball and decided to publish the contents myself and give an explanation. But I also lodged a report with the police against Camilleri and Azzopardi. 

There were court decrees and the police did absolutely nothing, treating these two individuals as if they are demi-Gods. The apparent fear to take action against this diabolical pair is based on the fear that they will turn against them. 

In contrast to the five criminal actions initiated by the police and the Attorney General against MaltaToday when reporting on the Yorgen Fenech case, no action was taken against Camilleri and Azzopardi. 

A cruel man 

But if Mark Camilleri is the puppet on a string desperate to get noticed, the real culprit here is Jason Azzopardi. 

I have had enough with this hypocritical, self-entitled and cruel man. And when I say cruel, he is not only malicious to those around him but also to those he lived with. 

I make special reference to the way he treats his ex-wife, who has to live with constant pressure from him and has not been able to live a normal life with a decent income. 

So here we have Jason Azzopardi picking on people who knew Yorgen Fenech, when he not only demanded freebies from the Tumas Group, but had free hotel accommodation at Tel Aviv paid for by the company. Mind you, he was supposedly to be on a religious holiday in Israel at the time but in fact was on a secret amorous break with his partner. 

Here is a guy who ate freely from the Hilton pool bistro and restaurants and in his typical miserly fashion never paid a bill. A tradition which he upholds to this day with visits to other restaurants. 

But it does not stop here. No one could blame him for not knowing that Yorgen Fenech was allegedly involved in crime and murder. But I guess that he did not know is a perfectly fine excuse for him but not for others. A fine example of two weights and two measures. 

It gets worse. 

A confidential Europol report 

When Caruana Galizia was bombed, and murdered in October 2017, Azzopardi was chosen to be in the family’s legal team. It was a good choice considering his legal knowledge and immense drive. He immersed himself in the case, and was privy to various documentation and data. And from the very first day, it was evident that he was the source of many privileged chats and information that were leaked to the media. 

The courts knew about it but did nothing. It contributed, in a good and bad way, to taking people down, changing their lives forever. Some were genuine mistakes, others were intentional. 

Azzopardi did not stop here. He had in his possession a confidential Europol report which outlined the list of potential persons of interest in the case. He passed this report to ‘trusted’ journalists in different media. The report is a confidential report and should remain so, for it was part of a speculative investigation in the very early days of the case. 

But conveniently, in his mischievous manner Azzopardi fanned only one part of the report which pinned suspicion on a certain entrepreneur and for a very short time this was taken up by the media until it was clear that the allegation was far-fetched. 

This report was given to Azzopardi by someone in the courts. Whom I do not know. I can guess who but that is what it will be – just a guess. 

If the family want to blame anyone, they should blame him not me. All I can say is that I have seen this report, and if I was one of those infamous bloggers I would surely have splashed its contents with all the raunchy details on social media. But I am not one of those bloggers, I am a mainstream media owner. 

Neither will I be intimidated by messages on Signal from those who believe they can tell me what to write or say or not what to say. 

Retainers from big business 

Jason Azzopardi who has a mission to single out all those who had a connection to either Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri or Yorgen Fenech seems to have a panache for being two-faced. 

Today he receives retainers from big business. Interestingly, he works with businessmen who also employ Joseph Muscat as their top consultant. It gets even better. He also has a retainer with businessmen who have direct connections with Keith Schembri and his business. 

Here is a guy who denies his ex-wife a decent living income even though he had €800,000 in his bank account. And here he is, always portraying himself as some kind of religious zealot. I can only puke. 

A pertinent question is where did he get his 800K? But I guess even this is not a justified question because it concerns Saint Jason? 

There is so much more about Jason Azzopardi that I can write about. I have only just started. 

Decent people in the political parties and those in business should start shutting the door to parasites like him. They are not really interested in the cause but only motivated by money and malevolence. 

Over the last 35 years in journalism, I have orbited in a toxic environment, with journalists turning on journalists, media on other media and politicians and businesses putting unnecessary pressure on editorial. 

I have tried to balance the two but my patience is running very thin. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and my newsrooms have tried to be above all this. I have tried to sustain this operation for as long as is possible. 

I have worked all my life, with unbearable stress on my loved ones and the ones I wish best for. I will not let the Mark Camilleris and Jason Azzopardis of this world destroy this for me. I will hit back with all I have.