Updated | IĠM urges police to investigate threats against Manuel Delia

Personal text messages and blocked ID phone calls were among the nuisance threats received by the blogger

Updated at 14:40pm with Bernard Grech statement

Activist and blogger Manuel Delia announced he will be leaving Malta temporarily due to security concerns and anonymous death threats. 

The news was first reported on an Italian website as part of a wider interview on Articolo21. The portal said that Delia was being forced to leave Malta, including his family and children, while the European Center for Press and Media Freedom will help him spend time "in a safe place" until things get better.

On Thursday morning, Delia confirmed the news on his blog, clarifying that he will not stop writing while away.

"I'm going away to be able to focus on my work without having to give too much heed to nuisance phone calls in the middle of the night and the sort of noise that is designed to distract me," Delia wrote. 

He added that he is not the only one with security concerns. "There are other journalists, activists, lawyers and state officials that are under a lot of pressure right now and have just as much reason to be concerned," he continued.

"I can do my work remotely for some time which is a relative advantage. They can't."

In his interview, Delia said that he was being threatened by criminals "inside and outside prison", that are empowered by a ruling political party.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Delia said that he had been receiving text messages personally directed at him, from anonymous numbers and from a US number based in Miami.

He was also receiving phone calls from blocked numbers, often ringing at nuisance hours. 

The digital nuisances came at around the same time that his website was spoofed, while emails impersonating him circulated local newsrooms in an attempt to make him seem mentally ill.

Delia added that he does not think that the threats form part of a partisan campaign from any political party, but warned that reports appearing on Labour party media often intend on discrediting him, adding fuel to the fire and still fostering a culture of impunity.

On Facebook, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi mentioned that three other people are receiving similar threats, but stated that responsibility lies with government. 

"You, Robert Abela, didn't even have the decency to implement one of the recommendations from the three judges in the public inquiry. But what about that bag of cash from Agius you received a few years ago?" Azzopardi wrote, referring to one of the Agius 'Maksar' brothers facing charges for supplying the bomb that killed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

IĠM expresses solidarity with Manuel Delia

The Institute of Maltese Journalists expressed its solidarity with Delia and his family, and said it's extremely concerned with the announcement that he will leave Malta out of fear of being harmed. 

"It is no one's position to judge whether this fear is justifiable or not. The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia has traumatised Malta's media industry and we work everyday with the knowledge in the front or back of our minds that there are dangerous people out there who are ready to kill journalists," it said in a statement. 

IĠM added that the work of journalists should be subject to criticism, but journalists also have a right and responsibility to ensure that they and their families are safe. 

"The more toxic and dangerous the environment gets, the more likely it is that journalists will decide to leave the profession," it pointed out. 

"We urge the police to thoroughly investigate the threats Delia has received and we call on Prime Minister Robert Abela and all other stakeholders in democracy to publicly condemn them in the spirit of safeguarding the fourth estate."

This country is sick - ADPD

ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo warned that Manuel Delia's decision should be shocking to all, adding that the police force should crack down on the culprits. 

"A few days before the commemoration of Daphne Caruana Galizia's brutal assassination four years ago, there are still people who feel that they can intimidate, spew hate, threats, and silence others," he said. "As things stand, it seems that the police force is not seen as being effective."

On behalf of the party, Cacopardo expressed solidarity with Delia and his family. "His sacrifices, and the sacrifices of others who suffer in silence, will one day be vindicated when this country gets rid of the fear and hate which have taken root over the years."

Totally unacceptable - Bernard Grech

PN leader Bernard Grech said that it is unacceptable, that any person living in Malta receives threats due to the words that they are saying.

He also confirmed that he is aware of similar attacks that people within the PN have endured. 

“When I critique Robert Abela, I make sure that I use no derogatory titles, as to avoid putting forward a narrative that attacks the people personally,” said Grech