RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
An investigative journalist who exposed political corruption and organized crime in her native Malta was killed after a bomb exploded in her car on Monday. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Daphne Caruana Galizia had just gotten into her rented car and was on the road in northern Malta when the vehicle exploded, landing in pieces in a nearby field. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, one of the reporter's prime targets, said her death was a barbaric attack on press freedom. Muscat announced that the FBI will fly experts to the island to help local police investigate the killing. The 53-year-old reporter had been described as a one-woman WikiLeaks.
She was known for solid investigative reporting and had no fear to name names and use sarcasm in her popular blog called Running Commentary. Some days, her site got up to 400,000 readers - this on an island that has a population of 420,000. Her last post, one half hour before the explosion, ended with there are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate. In recent years, Caruana Galizia had focused on the "Panama Papers," a cache of millions of documents leaked from a large, offshore law firm in the Central American country.
The papers, made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists team, revealed widespread tax evasion and corruption by rich and powerful people in Europe and elsewhere. Malta, a small island, is placed strategically in the middle of the Mediterranean and has a reputation as a haven for money laundering, false residencies and cash for passport schemes. Caruana Galizia had investigated a planned natural gas pipeline that is to run through Europe from Azerbaijan to southern Italy.
She reported that the wife of Prime Minister Muscat, Michelle, the country's energy minister and the government's chief of staff, had offshore holdings in Panama that received large sums from Azerbaijan. The European edition of the news site Politico had recently put Caruana Galizia on a list of 28 people who are shaping, shaking and stirring Europe. Two weeks ago, she told police she had received death threats but was not assigned any protection.
The Italian news magazine l'Espresso, which has reported extensively on Malta's alleged corruption links, said Caruana Galizia's murder demonstrates that a well-documented expose is perceived as a danger by the powerful and by organized crime. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News.
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