Malta, USA reject ‘spying’ allegation in fuel smuggling case

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

“Our bilateral relations have been consistently strong and continue to go from strength to strength,” the Government of Malta and the Government of the United States of America said in a statement.

The joint statement was issued by the Maltese Government’s Department of Information on Saturday morning, and later issued by the American Embassy in Malta.

In their joint statement the two governments hit out at allegations made during a court sitting earlier this week.

“Any allegations to the contrary, including those implying lack of trust in key individuals in the government, are false and have absolutely no impact on our friendship and close collaboration,” the two governments said, in an indirect reference to statements made in court by suspected fuel smuggler Darren Debono and his lawyer.

Debono said that US embassy officers had requested from him information on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff Keith Schembri, on incidents of refuelling of Russian ships, in exchange for leniency on American sanctions against him. Debono was arrested in Italy on fuel smuggling charges in 2017.

READ: My client was asked to spy on PM and Chief of Staff – Debono lawyer

The two governments insisted that they work together in a “very transparent and honest manner” from economic and financial engagement, to cultural and educational exchanges, political consultation, and regional security and law enforcement cooperation.

READ: Darren Debono asked to collaborate with the US Embassy in Malta

READ: More UN revelations about fuel smuggling off Malta

The two governments insisted that the bilateral relations have consistently grown strong, saying, “we have seen significant growth in our partnership with security and law enforcement elements along with cooperation against common threats to our countries.”