PM commits to protecting journalists after SLAPP threat against MaltaToday journalist

The Maltese government has stated its commitment to supporting independent press following allegations by Steward Health Care International against MaltaToday journalist Matthew Vella

The government insisted that it is committed on protecting journalists and supporting independent press after Steward Health Care International (SHCI) claimed that it reached out to the government to have it investigate MaltaToday journalist Matthew Vella.

On Wednesday, Mediatoday owner and director Saviour Balzan penned an open letter calling on Prime Minister Robert Abela to make an unequivocal public statement in favour of freedom of information and against Vella’s SLAPP threat.

The Prime Minister has since written back and made the letter public, stating that it is committed to protecting journalists and that there have been efforts to support journalistic work and the media sector in general.

“We intend to continue taking the necessary initiatives to create an environment where journalists can carry out their work with serenity, and receive all the protection expected from an EU member state that upholds the values mentioned in your letter.”

In its right of reply to MaltaToday, Steward Health Care International accused the media portal of working in collusion with a short seller to conduct a long-term and continuous smear campaign.

It said it wrote to the government of Malta seeking an investigation against Vella, MaltaToday and Viceroy Research for “persistent and malicious inaccurate reporting about the company”.

Government said it has not received any such letter from Steward Health Care International. “Should such correspondence eventually be received, and should it have the content you mention in your letter, as you rightly mention it is not within the powers or prerogative of the government to investigate such allegations.”