Italy. The most dangerous news of September 2015 reported by Ossigeno
Monthly report on acts of intimidation, created by the European Center for Press and Media Freedom of Leipzig (ECPMF) with the support of the European Union
Even this summer acts of intimidation against journalists did not go on vacation. After the eleven threats of August, twenty more occurred in September with 40 journalists being targeted, thus bringing the total number of journalists intimidated in 2015 to nearly 200. What happened in September reproduces the extensive menu of threats: a car burned, various assaults, reporters and cameramen threatened by violent football fans, anonymous letters, threatening writings on walls, mayors who insult and then press charges, scary verbal warnings. There was also a threat directed at a reporter while live on national television. All of this happens in Italy, where subtle distinctions are concocted so as to argue that there were no real threats. Also, the grand political and government maneuvers resumed in trying to hold the information of the public service radio and television broadcasters under control, as they have always been.
But here is our painful review of episodes documented by Ossigeno, made according to the crimes and violations of press freedom committed, without pretending to say which is more serious than the others, because it is truly impossible to generate a ranking of the pain and the anguish of victims.
In the night between 11 and 12 September the car of Gennaro Tedesco was set on fire, a young reporter from San Giovanni Rotondo (in the province of Foggia), author of scoop articles on business and criminal infiltration in his area. The authors of the fire remain unknown, although the police believes it was an arson attack. The journalist had already been the victim of a similar incident in 2011. While in 2014 the trees of his agricultural land had been set ablaze. In June, moreover, a candidate to the regional council attacked him on a personal level. The reporter expressed his bitterness in a poignant article (Read: http://notiziario.ossigeno.info/2015/09/san-giovanni-rotondo-gennaro-tedesco-me-laspettavo-ma-non-cosi-presto-61290/)
In Naples the car of Fabio Postiglione, police reporter of the Neapolitan daily Il Roma, was damaged: it is the fourth episode of intimidation against him in two months. Recently, a boss of the Camorra had said that his articles bothered him; last year Postiglione had received a series of anonymous threats and in 2005 a car of his was set alight.
In Cagliari on September 9 the journalist Antonello Lai and the cameraman Matteo Campulla, of TCS, a local television broadcaster, were beaten with fists and kicks by some young residents in a small Roma-Sinti camp, simply because they had questions on the difficult living conditions of the families that inhabit the area.
Also a crew from the known TV show “Chi l’ha visto?” risked being attacked following the threats by a man armed with a shovel while shooting footage in Naples, in the place where a child was wounded by shrapnel from a stray bullet.
In Piedmont the reporter Riccardo Coletti, who worked with one of the leading Italian dailies, La Stampa, was attacked and threatened by two men, who then fled in a car with a hidden license plate. They protested in such a fashion because Coletti, with a journalistic investigation in the field, had shown that the “caporalato” (that is illegal hiring, or the exploitation of illegal labor, often to the detriment of migrants) is also practiced in North Italy. The attackers followed him all the way home, and ordered him not to be seen again in Canelli, the Langhe area in which he had carried out his investigation.
In the Marche region, in San Benedetto del Tronto, on September 14 about fifty fans of the Sambenedettese club, the local soccer team, prevented the airing of a show dedicated to an in-depth report on local teams: journalists and guests of the show were locked out Vera TV studios for more than two hours. The reason? In the episode that had to go on air – and which was eventually aired anyways, albeit in reduced form, without them – the plan was to talk about the Ascoli football club, the historical rival of the Sambenedettese team.
On the same day the journalist Federica Angeli, journalist of the daily newspaper La Repubblica, who lives under police protection since 2013, was again threatened: this time live on national television, during the program “Quinta Colonna” (Fifth Column): one of the guests in the studio, Enrico Casamonica, whose family has been in recent months at the center of judicial investigations on organized crime in Rome, commenting on the journalistic investigations of the reporter, who was also present in the study, said: “she has to do her job to the end”, with an ambiguous expression that he did not want to clarify so as to mitigate the intimidating meaning; then he pointed out in an equally ambiguous fashion that she must have a lot of courage to live with her family in Ostia, a town on the Lazio coast, of which Angeli has widely reported the criminal episodes.
The journalist Arturo Di Corinto complained to the public prosecutor in Rome of threatening behavior against him, adopted after he published articles critical of the management of the public company Promuovitalia Spa, created by the Ministry of Culture to promote the tourism image of the country and youth entrepreneurship and closed for bankruptcy with a huge budget hole. The reporter said he was threatened verbally and to have caught other intimidating signals.
Mayors and lawsuits
And the usual insults and abuses, the usual threats of lawsuit by public administrators are not amiss: who, empowered by a popular mandate that calls him to govern a territory, never misses a chance to pick on those who dare to tell things that aren’t right, maybe directly on Facebook, as the mayor of Porto Torres did against the newspaper La Nuova Sardegna, who had criticized him for not approving the municipal budget within the prescribed period. And insults were not the end of the line for Nino Ippolito, press officer of the art critic and politician Vittorio Sgarbi, who earned two punches in the face by the husband of the deputy mayor of Gibellina (in the province of Trapani), for having joked about a typo in a poster of the City.
The mayor of Pozzuoli announced a lawsuit against a journalist, Danilo Pontillo (already the victim of an aggression, in May, for a different story), who had asked him to explain why he had assigned paid city council tasks to his own brother in law.
The mayor of the small town of Montaquila (in the province of Isernia), has instead threatened to take to court the reporters of the local newspaper Primo Piano Molise, who had criticized him for having started the works of refurbishment of a school late compared to what he himself had announced.
Also a councilor of the Apulia region Pino Romano, threatened to file a lawsuit because a journalist, Lello Parise (from the daily La Repubblica), wrote that he is among the suspects in an investigation on the local health company of Brindisi.
The online newspaper LaSpeziaoggi.it from the Liguria region also has to defend itself in court following the suing by a water company that considers offensive the criticism to the decision to refuse the connection to a woman accused of delays that she attributes to other members of her family.
Often the authors of threats remain nameless and faceless. It is the case, for example, of the journalist Nadia Verdile, collaborator of the newspaper Il Mattino, who along with former culture minister Massimo Bray received a new anonymous letter with death threats: the cause seems to be their commitment to make out of the historic Royal Palace of Carditello a public good available to citizens.
In Viterbo, an anonymous, with an anonymous letter, asked the Casamonica family, already mentioned, to punish the reporter Daniele Camilli and the website where he writes (TusciaWeb) reporting the misdeeds of local organized crime.
Faceless even the authors of insults written on a wall in Messina, Sicily, aimed at the journalist Lucio D’Amico, of the newspaper Gazzetta del Sud, author of a sarcastic opinion column on a form of protest which took place in the city center.
Positive glimmers of hope
There are, nonetheless, also some positive news for journalists: an architect in Milan was sentenced to pay €2,500 plus another €7,500 of expenses to the benefit of the journalist Paolo Moretti of The Province of Como, who had sued asking for a compensation of 200 thousand euro. According to the court, however, the lawsuit was frivolous. This is the second case of its kind in the Lombardy region in a few months: in June, the same court had sentenced Roberto Formigoni for a complaint against the RaiTre show Report.
The Court of Appeal of Salerno has acquitted from defamation charges (it happened in March) the journalist Salvatore Minieri, sentenced in the first degree to six months imprisonment and to pay court costs for an article in which he criticized a lawyer, who had sued him. The Court established the inadmissibility of the prosecution noting that the lawsuit was filed beyond the terms of the law.
On the first of July the bailiffs of the Court of Appeal of Florence have seized two paintings and a library owned by the Senator Denis Verdini, covering 13 thousand Euros in legal fees that the lawmaker must pay to the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano and the journalist Wanda Marra, after a rejection of his case for libel.
In Varese a lawsuit by the city council administration against the La Repubblica’s columnist Michele Serra was prescribed. In Lecce, on the other hand, the lawsuit against Marilù Mastrogiovanni, director of the online magazine Il Tacco d’Italia, was sent to the archives: a pity it took two years, with the resulting legal fees, to reach this decision. In Sava, in the province of Taranto, the defamation against the journalist Mimmo Carrieri, insulted for having denounced a case of environmental degradation, has been recognized.
September in numbers
Acts of aggression, personal threats, through banners and graffiti, acts of discrimination and arbitrary exclusions, abuse of law, threats of legal action: these are the types of intimidation against journalists reported from the observatory Ossigeno per l’Informazione in September 2015. The names of the victims are listed in Table 2015, and marked with numbers from 167 to 190. It is twenty-four cases involving more than forty journalists and cameramen, from news outles active on the web, on television, in print, and a press officer. So far this year, the intimidation counter by Ossigeno reported 292 new acts of intimidation, including 190 committed in 2015 and the rest in previous years and so far unknown. Started in 2006, the meter is now up to 2437. According to estimates by Ossigeno, for every known and documented intimidation at least ten others remain unknown to the Observatory because the victims do not have the strength to make them public.
Porto Torres. The Nuova Sardegna criticizes, the mayor gets angry on Facebook
On July 30, 2015 Sean Christian Wheeler decried with a post the newspaper of Sassari, which accused him of failed fulfillment of duties. The journalists protest
Asti. Cronista La Stampa minacciato dopo inchiesta caporalato Riccardo Coletti è stato minacciato da due uomini poi fuggiti su un’automobile con la targa nascosta
Pozzuoli. Incarichi al cognato? Sindaco annuncia querela
Il giornalista Danilo Pontillo ha segnalato l’anomalia chiedendo spiegazioni. Aveva subito un’aggressione a maggio 2015
Facebook in Gibellina. Punches against a journalist for an ironic post
Nino Ippolito, press secretary of Vittorio Sgarbi, was attacked by the husband of the deputy mayor for having joked about a typo in a poster of the City
Reggia Carditello. Other threats against journalist and former minister
Nadia Verdile, collaborator of the daily Il Mattino, and the former minister of culture are fighting for the full public use of the old Bourbon house
Varese. City Council complaint against Michele Serra prescribed
In 2009, in an article he had joked on the proposal to place the city among the World Heritage sites
Naples. Damaged the car of a Journalist from the Daily “Il Roma”
His name is Fabio Postiglione. It is the fourth retaliation in less than two months. A boss complained of his articles. Order of Journalists and Union request meeting with the Prefect
Viterbo. Anonymous asks the Casamonica to punish reporter and website
The journalist Daniele Camilli: they want me dead. An all-out intimidation deemd justified. In the line of fire also the online newspaper Tusciaweb
Lecce. Mastrogiovanni, lawsuit filed but two years of fees
Bitter comment from the chief editor of Tacco d’Italia. “No false circumstance, no reference to non-existent facts”, the motivation reads
Puglia. San Giovanni Rotondo. Burning of the car of reporter Gennaro Tedesco
It was parked in the street near his home. The freelance journalist has already faced acts of intimidation for his critical articles
Naples. Crew from “Chi l’ha Visto?” Tv show blocked by man armed with shovel
The journalist and the operators were in Giugliano to show the place where a child was injured by a stray bullet
Cagliari. Journalist and operator beaten during filming
Upon arriving at a Gypsy camp they were hit and kicked by some young people. The journalist Antonello Lai says: I denounce the violent, I do not accuse the Roma
Talks about wastes and thefts at failed public company. Threatened
The journalist Arturo Di Corinto informed the judiciary of the warnings received for some articles on the public company Promuovitalia
Milan. Defamation. Another conviction for vexatious litigation in 2 months
Sentenced to pay 2,500 euro and 7,500 euro of expenses, an architect who had asked for 200 thousand euro to Paolo Moretti of La Provincia di Como
Sava (Taranto). Giornalista diffamato, condannato consigliere comunale
Giuseppe Massarelli aveva definito “Cesso!” Mimmo Carrieri, il cronista che denunciava il degrado ambientale pubblicando foto delle discariche
Allaccio negato. LaSpeziaoggi.it querelata da azienda idrica
Udienza il 21 settembre. Acam Acque ritiene offensive le critiche alla decisione di rifiutare la fornitura a un donna spezzina per morosità
Marche. Fans prevent journalist from conducting tv show
In San Benedetto, Giuseppe Ercoli could not reach the studios. “Here you never talh about Ascoli”, the hoolingans shouted. Solidarity from the union
Threating words on air against Federica Angeli by a Casamonica
It happened on September 14, 2015 during the TV show Quinta Colonna (Fifth Column). “You have to do your job to the end”, “you have courage”. Many insults on social networks
Puglia. Region counicllor announces lawsuit against reporter of La Repubblica
Lello Parise commented: “There is a case file.” He wrote that Pino Romano is among the suspects in an investigation on the ASL of Brindisi
Deadline for suing had expired. The court of appeal discovers it
The journalist Minieri, sued in 2009 for an article published in the Nuova Gazzetta di Caserta, had already been sentenced in the first degree
Messina. Covered with insults for having criticized a tent on a flowerbed
Solidarity by the Order of Journalist to the reporter Lucio D’Amico for the offensive wall writings appeared after a sarcastic piece on a form of protest was published
Defamation. Impounding for Verdini after lawsuit against “Il Fatto Quotidiano”
For a year he was sentenced to pay legal fees. Now perhaps he may ask the PDL to pay, of which he was the coordinator
Molise. Sindaco minaccia querela per critiche su cantieri in scuole
A Montaquila (Isernia) Francesco Rossi accusa i cronisti di Primo Piano: vostre notizie false e pretestuose. Il direttore replica: “Non mi lascio intimidire”