The following is a statement by Matthew, Andrew and Paul Caruana Galizia:

Today’s decision of the court in Athens to reject Malta’s request for Maria Efimova’s extradition and to release her from custody is welcome news. But it is an indictment of Malta’s collapsing rule of law and its government’s drive to persecute rather than protect whistle-blowers.

Maria Efimova is being targeted in a smear campaign led by the Maltese government. Stories have been spread in the media, falsely accusing her of being wanted in connection with our mother’s assassination. Ms Efimova’s decision to expose wrongdoing by her former employer in Malta, Pilatus Bank chairman Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, who is now facing 125 years in a US jail for evading sanctions against Iran, and his corrupt links to Maltese government officials, was a bold and brave step. It put her at risk of assassination.

Ms Efimova should be protected not only because it is her right, but also because it is the right thing to do. Instead, Malta has made her the country’s first political asylum seeker.

Whistle-blowers play a critical role in ensuring a free and democratic society by revealing malfeasance, corruption, and crime. The risks of speaking out affect them and those closest to them, but the benefits of their speaking out benefit us all.

Malta has done nothing to protect its most prominent whistle-blowers, Maria Efimova and Jonathan Ferris, both of whom revealed crime and corruption at the highest level of the Maltese government. Whistle-blowers should be protected. They should not be persecuted.