The Times and Malta Today acknowledged removing from or editing a number of old reports on their on-line archive relating to Pilatus Bank. They did not do so after seeing any evidence that persuaded them they were mistaken the first time round. They did so because they were threatened with ruinous law-suits (SLAPPs as they call them in the jargon).
This is suppression of freedom of speech by the violence of corporate money. It is “the chilling effect” of silencing journalism by intimidation. It is, one should imagine, a horrific coincidence that journalists have been faced by this act of intimidation by Pilatus Bank in the same days that they were faced by another act of intimidation from the perpetrators of the terrorist assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
This was the worst week for press freedom in Malta since The Times building was burnt down so many years ago.
Although the scale of the hurt is different, I think the Caruana Galizias will forgive me if I compare the government’s failure to protect Daphne’s life with the government’s failure to protect our media houses from SLAPPs thrown down by vicious corporate monsters like Pilatus Bank. Both cases are omissions by policy of protection of the constitutional right for freedom of expression in our country.
The “fourth estate”, the other pillar of democracy in the country, is under threat from all sides. Whether by violence of bombs and killings or by the intimidation of overwhelming corporate power the big boys have been given a free hand by a government unable or unwilling to protect its own.
Who knows what obligations Joseph Muscat and others around him might have towards Pilatus Bank to allow it to ride roughshod over our independent media? What can they do? Well they could start by adding standard anti-SLAPP laws on our statutes.
In any case in whichever way we can we must show defiance to those who would silence us. And like Daphne Caruana Galizia we must not wait for the protection of the government before we stand up to be counted.
I am starting to upload archived links I have found to the stories some of our newspapers edited several months after they were first published or removed from their records altogether after Pilatus Bank forced them to.
Nothing in these stories is not widely known among my readers. But Pilatus Bank cannot stand these links coming up when their potential clients google their name. But even when inconvenient, truth must be said aloud.
And history must not be altered by time travelers from the future. It is just not right that memory is expunged or even played with and manipulated by a present which no longer deems that memory convenient. There is something profoundly unethical and historically fraudulent about trying to change the version of events documented by the personal testimony of the journalists who were there at the time.
We cannot stand for this.
Please help by clicking on these links and sharing them as widely as possible. Let them know we will not stand down.
Note: the links are to archive.org. The websites will take slightly longer to upload than you may be used to. If you have a slow connection, it is possible your attempt to upload will time out.