It is unusual for politicians to report factually correct articles to the police. It is all the more unusual when they have been invited to comment on the article and their full, unedited comments appeared in the published article. It is also noteworthy that in providing her comments to EUAC, Ana Gomes MEP did not raise any objection about the article, she requested no correction, and she did not suggest anything in the article was either untrue or defamatory. All of which make her subsequent behaviour quite unusual.
Following publication of the EUAC article, Gomes took the extraordinary step of reporting EUAC to Europol as “fake news” – a tactic more commonly associated with Donald Trump. Gomes’ letter makes a number of strange and verifiably false claims.
- That EUAC is “clearly aiming to spread confusion with the European program called ‘European Union Anti-Corruption Initiative’”. This is not a credible accusation, EUAC is very plainly a news site and not a part of any EU body or program.
- Its web domain is registered in Malaysia, it has no About page, no address or contact details. EUAC is indeed registered in Malaysia, it also has both About and Contact pages, clearly visible on the site if Gomes had taken a moment to look.
- EUAC made changes to its logo. Yes, like many new sites we take feedback onboard to make improvements. We are interested in news and corruption, not graphic design. Our site, logo, and layout were all subcontracted, like many other sites.
- EUAC uses paid promotion to boost its traffic and base. Yes, again, like many other sites -particularly new ventures that require a floor level from which organic growth can take off.
Gomes’ justification for her aggressive reaction to the article is that it has “defamed” her, yet she has not provided a single example of an untruth in the article; there is no element of its claims that she is contesting. We have asked her to provide clarification but she remains silent. The article explicitly avoided accusing her of conscious wrongdoing, suggesting she was “unwittingly” supporting Mukhtar Ablyazov by appearing to show solidarity with a woman known to be working under his command: Gaini Yerimbetova.
The article never suggests Gomes was “contacted” by Ablyazov. The article never suggests Gomes received any financial support from any Kazakh national, or anyone she has worked with. Why Gomes is refuting claims that were never made is unclear.
She goes on to accuse a Maltese MP of “slander” for sharing the article. This is odd behaviour.
For the avoidance of doubt, it would be helpful if Gomes could point to a single statement in the article that was untrue. For an MEP to bring in the police over an article in which she cannot point to a single false statement is deeply concerning. It appears Gomes wants to use her position of power to silence journalists covering her work.
If any readers want to know why journalists covering corruption take steps to maintain their anonymity, we offer this incident as an instructive case in point. Ask MEPs tough questions and they call in Europol. This is the free press in 21st century Europe. Further afield, as we have covered, a number of journalists covering corruption have been killed in the last year alone.
The primary issue is this: was any element of the Gomes article untrue? No.
We would sincerely encourage Ana Gomes to do her own due diligence on Ablyazov and ODF. EUAC does not believe the MEP to be guilty of any impropriety whatsoever, nor has it alleged such. Rather, we think she has been taken advantage of. Like many journalists we are not satisfied of the innocence of either Ablyazov or his affiliates.
The controversial ODF “think tank” insists all of its critics are “Russian trolls” and pressures social media firms to close down their accounts. Readers can make up their own minds as to whether this is normal behaviour for an “NGO” committed to transparency, human rights and the rule of law.