[WATCH] Pegasus Project wins first Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism

European Parliament honours Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia by hosting the first award ceremony of The Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism

The European Parliament has honoured the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia by hosting the first award ceremony of The Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism on the fourth anniversary of Caruana Galizia’s murder.

The first winners of the prize were Forbidden Stories with their work on the Pegasus Project. Forbidden Stories is a consortium of journalists whose mission is to continue the investigations of murdered, imprisoned or threatened journalists.

Since its inception in 2017, Forbidden Stories and its partners have pursued the work of Daphne Caruana Galizia, but also of journalists murdered for their investigations into environmental crimes or Mexican cartels.

“No one can comprehend the horrid significance of what happened to Daphne; the loss can never be articulated. Her murder was a watershed moment for European identity and for journalism. The EU was founded and supports principles of freedom, justice and liberty. The world looks to us as an example, however these values are not written on a stone tablet they were fought for and they can still be lost if we do not continue to fight,” EP President David Sassoli said.

“Sadly Daphne is not the only one to have been murdered while doing her job… sadder still journalism has become a dangerous profession in Europe. We remember Jan Kuciak for example, and others… The fact that journalists get attacked and killed while just doing their jobs is intolerable. Hundreds and thousands of them are threatened verbally, physically, insulted, assaulted and  attacked every day to try and stop them doing their job.”

About the winning story

An unprecedented leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance by the customers of the Israeli company NSO Group shows how this technology has been systematically abused for years. The Forbidden Stories consortium and Amnesty International had access to records of phone numbers selected by NSO clients in more than 50 countries since 2016.

Journalists from the Pegasus Project – more than 80 reporters from 17 media organizations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories with the technical support of Amnesty International’s Security Lab – sifted through these records of phone numbers and were able to take a peak behind the curtain of this surveillance weapon, which had never been possible to this extent before.

Project leader Sandrine Rigaux said Forbidden Stories knew from the start the Pegasus Project would not be doable with a small team.

“We needed to identify those behind the numbers we uncovered (50,000)... We needed to convince people being spied on to let us examine their phones. 80 journalists from 16 outlets and Amnesty International’s security lab all worked together on this and we uncovered that out of those 50,000 numbers. a huge number were of journalists investigating corruption from around the world.

“While working on this we always held Daphne in our minds... we will continue to work and collaborate, but without EU cooperation we cannot do our job, we need more transparency and accountability. If we want to protect democracy we can do our job, but we need more from the EU.”

The Forbidden Stories consortium discovered that, contrary to what NSO Group has claimed for many years, including in a recent transparency report, this spyware has been widely misused. The leaked data showed that at least 180 journalists have been selected as targets in countries like India, Mexico, Hungary, Morocco and France, among others. Potential targets also include human rights defenders, academics, businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, union leaders, diplomats, politicians and several heads of states.

Pegasus: The new global weapon for silencing journalists • Forbidden Stories

About the Prize

The Prize is rewarded on a yearly basis (on the 16 October, the date Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated) to outstanding journalism that promotes or defends the core principles and values of the European Union such as human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights. This is the first year the prize has been awarded.

The independent jury was composed of representatives of the press and civil society from the 27 European member states and representatives of the main European Associations of Journalism.

The prize and the €20 000 prize money demonstrates the European Parliament’s strong support for investigative journalism and the importance of free press.

Maltese MEP David Casa spearheaded the establishment of this prize through his role within the European Parliament’s Bureau’s Working Group on Information and Communication Policy. “For me, through this new prize, the European Parliament is sending out two strong messages. The first message is addressed to the Maltese and Gozitan people: the European Parliament is on your side, and wants justice for all those cases revealed by Daphne.

“The second message is addressed to all the journalists across Europe: the European Parliament values journalism which is indispensable for our democracies. We will stand with journalists, champion media freedom and combat the culture of impunity that allows for journalists to be targeted by those they expose. This is also my mission as a Maltese and Gozitan elected representative,” Casa said.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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