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Italy. The most dangerous news by Ossigeno. January 2017

This monthly review of acts of intimidation in Italy is produced by Ossigeno per l’Informazione for the European Center for Press and Media Freedom of Leipzig (ECPMF), with the support of the European Union

Monitoring: verified cases of probable threats, deemed credible

In January 2017, Ossigeno per l’Informazione has verified 104 cases of probable threats, acts of intimidation and abuse that took place in Italy against journalists, bloggers and other media workers.

After thorough evaluation, the Observatory has deemed credible 27 episodes against as many media professionals (11 men, 2 women and 14 non-disclosed). The Observatory has documented these episodes, published them and added the names of the threatened to its Register of victims of serious violations of freedom of expression and the press. This Register, which is available online (see) lists 3112 names, 27 of which were added during the first 31 days of 2017.

Each episode has been fully investigated and analyzed. Each has been made public by the Observatory with news, analysis and commentary published on the web site www.notiziario.ossigeno.info and disseminated through weekly newsletters in Italian and English. The most relevant cases were also notified through specific press releases.

The cases of intimidation against journalists and information operators are:

5 Journalists L’Espresso; 5 Journalists Il Fatto Quotidiano; Tommaso Ciriaco, 5 Journalists Repubblica; Marilù Mastrogiovanni; Corso Viola di Compalto, Virman Cusenza; Edoardo Bianchini; Elvira Terranova; Alessio Caspanello; Fabrizio Gatti; Giuseppe Giustolisi, Marco Travaglio, Paolo Flores D’Arcais; 2 Journalists pianetamessina.com.

The forms of  attack and intimidation, according to the Ossigeno classification method, fall into the following types: Light Attack (2), Frivolous defamation lawsuit brought by a judge (3), Frivolous defamation lawsuit (3), Abuse of legal process (2), Threat through Facebook or other social network (1), Specious civil lawsuit (1), insult (5), Obstacle to freedom of information (10).

News: 54 original news items produced
As such, Ossigeno has published 54 original news items of incidents including 31 in Italian and 23 in English. Moreover Ossigeno produced six weekly newsletters (three in Italian and three in English).

Social network dissemination
This month Ossigeno made 88 posts, +67 likes and 1209 views for posts on Fb; 68 Tweets, 28.500 views, 860 visits, 54 notices and 32 new followers on Twitter.

Top Facts (Threats and more)
New year, same old story: also in January 2017 there were episodes of attacks, threats and intimidations against media. At the same time, there was also much good news, mostly acquittances from charges of defamation and lawsuits. However this indicates that in Italy a great number of legal actions are made more in order to hamper journalists and obstruct news than because people believe they had been damaged.

About attacks and insults: on January 10th the reporter Elvira Terranova was insulted on Twitter by an anonymous account, after she posted an article she wrote for the news agency Adnkronos. Then, on January 23rd the 5 Star Movement blog beppegrillo.it attacked the journalist Tommaso Ciriaco (La Repubblica) who had reported about rumors of a hypothetical future ruling governing alliance between the 5 Star Movement, the League and the right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia (FDI).

Other two quite similar episodes, tell a lot about how hard is for the press to investigate business and companies. Two major Italian firms – Eni and Alitalia – boycotted newspapers after they published unwelcome news. The energy company Eni canceled a planned advertising campaign after an article, published on January 15 by Il Fatto Quotidiano, about alleged payment of bribes in Nigeria. In the same days the national airline company Alitalia did not distribute to passengers on its flights an edition of the magazine l’Espresso, after its publication of a critical investigation into the company’s accounts.

Here we are with the good news: some cases of journalists acquitted of charges of defamation.

On December 13th, 2016, the Court of Cassation acquitted journalists Corso Viola Compagno and Virman Cusenza (editor-in-chief of Il Messaggero), sued by a police officer after two article about irregular telephone tapping.

Fabrizio Gatti (L’Espresso) on December 16th, 2016, was acquitted by the Tribunal of Velletri for a lawsuit made by the mayor of Seregno (Lombardy) in 2013 about an article in which the journalist told about ‘ndrangheta” activity in Northern Italy and its relationship with politicians.

On January 19th, after eleven long years since the act of citation (2006), the Civil Court of Lecce rejected the claim for damages for defamation made by the publisher Paolo Pagliaro, legal representative of Telerama and Radiorama, against the journalist Marilù Mastrogiovanni, chief editor of Il Tacco d’Italia. Pagliaro had sued the reporter for 260 thousand euro in damages for an article in which the reporter denounced a series of criminal offences perpetrated by the publisher.

In addition the Court of Appeal of Rome upheld an acquittal of 2011 of the journalists Giuseppe Giustolisi and Marco Travaglio. The two had been sued by the then prosecutor of Catania, Giuseppe Gennaro, for an article entitled “Here come the people of Catania”, published on Micromega in 2006.

Also the journalist Edoardo Bianchini was acquitted by the Court of Pistoia after three years. He had been sued by the president of two care-giving associations for 120 articles published on Quarrata/news information blog since 2010.

Moreover, in Messina (Sicily), the Appeal Court acquitted the journalist Alessio Caspanello from charge of defamation. He had been sued by a ferry company because he wrote about  passengers protest against the gates of the ferry slip.

All the threats

Eni e Alitalia “boicottano” giornali con notizie sgradite

Grillo’s blog mocks La Repubblica and one of its journalists

Rejected after 11 years a request for damages of 260k euro

Non è punibile cronista che riporta fedelmente atti giudiziari

Quarrata (Prato province). Acquitted after three years blogger sued for 120 articles

Palermo. The reporter Elvira Terranova insulted on Twitter

Messina. Giornalista assolto in appello da accusa diffamazione

Seregno. Archiviata dopo 4 anni querela ex sindaco a Fabrizio Gatti

Catania. 10 years to clear from all charges journalists accused by magistrate

Messina. Due cronisti minacciati e aggrediti dopo una partita di calcio

Other Important News

IFJ. New insurance scheme for journalists in danger

Hoaxes and post-truth. And if we were to discuss them in a conference?

Ossigeno. 412 journalists threatened in italy in 2016

2016 annus horribilis. Beaten the record of number of journalists killed

Aemilia trial. Accused do not want journalists in court room


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