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Hacking claims should be made to police, Gonzi tells Muscat

Labour Leader Joseph Muscat should have turned to the police to investigate claims that his private e-mail account was hacked instead of “using” Parliament by raising a breach of privilege complaint, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

Dr Muscat chose not to refer to the police because he wanted to divert attention away from the content of the e-mails, which revealed he used a journalist for his political advantage and led her to betray her employers, Dr Gonzi said in a recorded interview broadcast on the Nationalist Party’s radio station.

“If the law was broken, then why did Dr Muscat turn to Parliament and not the police? Does the Speaker have a team of investigators? If he really believes his system has been hacked he should go to the Police Commissioner,” Dr Gonzi said.

Dr Muscat who raised a breach of privilege complained in Parliament last week claiming that a private e-mail exchange between himself and RTK journalist Sabrina Agius landed in the hands of the PN media after computer hacking because neither he nor Ms Agius released the correspondence. Ms Agius was suspended the following day and is facing internal disciplinary proceedings.

Dr Gonzi accused Dr Muscat of playing a game because he knew the e-mail exchange was being circulated and wanted to avoid defending it.

“Obscenely, he turned it on me... What he said in Parliament implicates me, my officials and the government system,” he said.

The government could never be accused of hacking because the e-mails were not sent from the government system but from Dr Muscat’s private e-mail account, Dr Gonzi said.

Dr Muscat had a way of applying two weights and two measures because while accusing presenters such as Peppi Azzopardi of political bias the “unethical” exchange was shameful as it revealed he was “using” Ms Agius for his political advantage, Dr Gonzi said.

Turning to Libya, Dr Gonzi said he was saddened to see the way former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed last week. “I would have preferred to see Gaddafi face a judicial process before an independent tribunal. National reconciliation cannot start with an act of violence,” he said.

After 42 years of dictatorship and suffering, Libya was looking towards a new beginning and Malta looked forward to the birth of a new democratic process, Dr Gonzi said. Malta must keep its role to secure stability in the region as new challenges and opportunities lay ahead.

He pointed out that Malta was on the side of the Libyan people, adding that the government took “very bold decisions in very difficult moments”, which were even criticised by the Labour Party.

“We always believed that justice would prevail,” he said.

On public transport, Dr Gonzi said the new routes based on an interchange system had failed and the amended routes, linking each village to Valletta, were aimed at boosting efficiency.

The bus reform still brought about significant positive changes with environmentally-friendly buses, low on emissions and comfortable for passengers.

The Labour Party said in reaction that Dr Gonzi admitted he gave his “blessing” for negotiations with stolen e-mails or material hacked from a private account.

Dr Gonzi’s attitude with regard to private and personal material that was hacked or stolen confirmed the concerns of citizens who did not have their mind at rest with regard to e-mails, phone calls or any other means of communication they used because of interference by the Nationalist Party, Labour said.

The party said Dr Gonzi’s “crocodile tears” about the public transport fiasco were worthless. Transport Minister Austin Gatt had shouldered political responsibility.

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