Scroll down for a copy of the letter Robert Aquilina sent today to an individual who had donated €1,500 to Repubblika last year.

When last Sunday, we saw ourselves on Illum’s front page, accused of “accepting” a donation from someone who was looking to buy Maltese citizenship we were aghast. We felt guilty of the hypocrisy we were being accused of, or at least we would have if we did indeed “accept” such a donation.

Because “acceptance” requires awareness. If I plant a bomb in your bedroom without your knowledge, I can’t claim you have accepted that I put it there.

That didn’t feel like a mistake. The response to a Parliamentary question that was the source of the information for the newspaper report, listed several organisations and made no claim that Repubblika benefited more than any others. The PQ also gave information about what claims were made by applicants, but the minister could not know if we accepted the funds because the government never asked us. Apparently, all they had was a copy of a PayPal transaction which could have been reversed (as indeed it has now been).

So why did Illum, MaltaToday’s naughtier Maltese language Sunday, jump to the conclusion that we accepted the funds? Why did they have a cartoon of Robert Aquilina dropping his campaigning megaphone to greedily accept money from a cartoon tycoon? Why did they do that when they had no reason to believe this happened at all?

Why were they so keen to discredit us and present us as untrustworthy hypocrites when they had no factual basis to do so? Because the minister’s response to the PQ certainly gave no such factual basis.

I find it hard to believe in coincidences.

Whatever may have happened beyond our line of sight, now that we knew there was a claim we got some money that might have helped someone buy our citizenship, we asked the government who it was. They told us one person and one person only had made such a claim.

So, we sent that person his €1,500 back and this is what we told him.