Daphne Caruana Galizia journalism prize goes to Pegasus Project

Parliament’s journalism prize has been awarded to the Pegasus Project that revealed government spying on journalists, politicians and others.

The Pegasus Project was awarded the 2021 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism
The Pegasus Project was awarded the 2021 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism

Opening the award ceremony in Brussels, Parliament President David Sassoli said: “By creating transparency, investigative journalism allows voters to make informed decisions. Protecting and supporting journalists is in the vital interest of democratic societies.”

On behalf of the 29 members of the jury, Anthony Bellanger, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists, presented the €20,000 prize to Sandrine Rigaud and Laurent Richard, representing the consortium behind the Pegasus Project.

About the winner

The Pegasus Project is an international journalism initiative under the coordination of Forbidden Stories, a consortium of journalists whose mission is to investigate murdered, imprisoned or threatened journalists.

In July 2021, more than 80 reporters from 17 media organisations in 10 countries revealed that Pegasus spyware had been sold by the Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO Group Technologies to governments and used against at least 50,000 people around the world. The leaked data showed that at least 180 journalists, plus human rights defenders, religious leaders, politicians and military staff had been targeted in countries including India, Mexico, Hungary, Morocco and France.

On 16 October 2017, the Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia  was killed in a car bomb explosion.
Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb explosion in October 2017

The Daphne Caruana Galizia journalism prize

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism was launched on 16 October 2020, the third anniversary of her death, to reward outstanding journalism reflecting EU values.

It is open to journalists or teams of journalists of any nationality whose in-depth stories have been published or broadcast by a media outlet based in the EU. Candidates and the eventual laureate will be chosen by an independent panel.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist, blogger and anti-corruption activist who reported extensively on corruption, money laundering, organised crime, sale of citizenship and the Maltese government’s links to the Panama Papers. Following harassment and threats, she was murdered in a car bomb explosion on 16 October 2017.

The outcry over the authorities’ handling of her murder investigation ultimately prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Critical of failings in the investigation, in December 2019, MEPs called on the European Commission to take action.

Published on 28 April, the report "Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists" from the Council of Europe lists 201 serious violations of media freedom in 2020. This figure marks a 40% increase from 2019 and is the highest figure recorded since the platform was established in 2014. A record number of alerts concerned physical assault (52 cases) and harassment or intimidation (70 cases).

Parliament strongly advocates the importance of a free press. In a May 2018 resolution, MEPs called on EU countries to ensure adequate public funding and to promote a pluralist, independent and free media. Parliament has once again underlined the importance of media freedom in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Watch our Facebook live interview about the Daphne Caruana Galizia Journalism Prize.