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Italy. The most dangerous news from Ossigeno. September 2017

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

Threats, acts of intimidation, attacks: the most serious cases

Catania. “I’ll bust your guts!”. Threat calls against activist reporter
“Are you convinced that we will not be able to reach you? I am the one who will bust your guts”. An anonymous man with a Catania accent on the evening of July 20 threatened with a phone call Orazio Vasta, a freelance, precarious journalist, a USB trade union member and an anti-fascist militant of Catania.

Calabria. “You’re a dead man,” they write to reporter from Strongoli
On September 19, journalist Giovanni Le Rose, a collaborator of the local online newspaper, Il Crotonese, found an anonymous threat letter in his mailbox in Strongoli (in the province of Crotone): “You piece of shit journalist, you’re a dead man, you’ll end up in a dump you and your committee.” Next to a photo with a picture of a coffin carried on the shoulders.

Rho. Milan. Intrusion and damages to the weekly Settegiorni
In the night between Saturday 2 and Sunday, September 3, forcing a door to the back of the building, someone entered the offices of the weekly Settegiorni in Rho, in the province of Milan, right in the city’s center, devastating the furniture and covering with insults the walls and the glass of windows. It is the third episode of this kind in a few months. It would appear that something was stolen.

Palermo. Crew attacked, Stefania Petyx hit with a rod
In Palermo, on September 21, journalist Stefania Petyx, reporter for Striscia La Notizia, along with her cameraman and a program author, were attacked by abusive occupants of a property owned by the Civic Hospital of the city. In the structure, declared uninhabitable, four families have been living there for over a year.

Borrometi. More threats against the journalist under police protection. His name on the “Platform to Promote Journalism and Journalists’ Security”
On 15 September, the Police and the Carabinieri of Ragusa carried out 15 arrests in Vittoria (in the Ragusa province), seizing a company linked to the Ventura clan who, through some of its members, threatened the journalist Paolo Borrometi for some articles dedicated to exposing their illicit business, and forcing him to ask for the protection of the law enforcers (read more).
Four days earlier Borrometi was again the victim of an attack: two people heavily insulted him on Facebook. Sebastiano Casto – condemned in the past for scams, extortion, and threats – has posted on the profile of the online LaSpia.it headline, where the reporter is the chief editor, an offensive comment to an article in which the reporter spoke of municipal elections in Avola. After a new article dedicated to Casto, other insults came from another person, not mentioned in the article (read more).
Because of the break into his home in August, with the theft of a hard disk and other archive material, the journalist’s name was included on the “Platform to Promote Journalism and Journalists’ Security” hosted by the Council of Europe (read more).

Calabria. Attempted attack on journalist while filming a sewer
On August 19, 2010, in Melito di Porto Salvo (Reggio Calabria province) the newspaper journalist Domenico Vinci, chief editor and reporter of the local broadcaster Capo Sud Television Channel, while filming a video to document an open sewer, was verbally threatened by a man who tried to attack him and told him to get away.

Social networks. Sexist insults on the web against two journalists
On September 1, journalist Tea Sisto was heavily insulted on Facebook for publishing two favorable comments on migration integration policies. On the same issue, but on Twitter, the same fate happened to the colleague Antonella Napoli, who on September 4 was targeted for criticizing the success of the anti-migrant manifesto made by Forza Nuova after a rape case in Rimini.

Migrants. Hacker attack against daily newspaper Libero and insults to journalist
The website of the daily newspaper Libero and the journalist Alessio Gonzato were targeted – the former with a computer attack, the second with insults on Facebook – after September 6, when the daily published as a headline on the front page: “After misery, they bring disease”, in which the intrinsic subject are migrants in Italy and refer to the case of a baby who died of malaria, a disease that may have been transmitted by two foreign children. Gonzato had covered the case in various articles.

Vico Equense (Naples). Journalist and operator identified by carabinieri
On August 29, journalist Emilio D’Averio, chief editor of the website onlinemagazine.it, along with one of his operators were identified by the Carabinieri as they were shooting some video footage during an ongoing demonstration on the sorrentina high way in Vico Equense (in the province of Naples). Some volunteers and citizens protested, blocking traffic, asking for a serious intervention to fight the fires on Mount Faito. The Carabinieri have asked the two, who qualified themselves as information providers, to stop the Facebook live broadcast. “At first we just went on – D’Averio told Ossigeno – but they again warned us to suspend the broadcast and have identified us” (watch). The journalist received solidarity from the Unitarian Union of Journalists of Campania (read more).

Catania. Journalist accused from reporting a press release
On December 13, 2010, it will begin in Catania the trial against the journalist Marco Benanti (chief editor and repoerter of Le Iene Sicule) and lawyer Giuseppe Arnone, accused of aggravated defamation online (articles 110 and 595 of the criminal code ). To press charges against them was Alfonso Cicero, former President of the Regional Institute for the Development of Production Activities, due to an article from 11 July 2015: the journalist had resumed a press release by Arnone in which he criticized Cicero, defining him as “responsible for crimes and deceit “.
“Benanti limited himself to returning the declarations of an authoritative figure, thus doing his duty. The ECHR case-law also says that if a journalist reports, without adding anything, what a public figure says, the journalist gives public knowledge of a matter of public interest, and should not go to trial”, Benanti’s lawyer, Fabio Cantarella, explained Ossigeno. “I have been sued for 30 years: so far I have never lost a trial but have never received one euro for reimbursing costs. I think that in a civilized country when someone is charged without fair reason, it would be necessary to impose some compensation in the event of acquittal”, the journalist adds.

Defamation. Acquitted Rino Giacalone, accused by former health director of Trapani
On 30 June, the Catania Court of Appeal, confirming the first-instance ruling of 12 January 2010, dismissed “because the fact does not exist” the journalist Rino Giacalone, accused of defamation by the General Manager of the ASL 9 in Trapani, Fulvio Manno, who had been offended by an article published in the newspaper La Sicilia on January 14, 2006. The article reported recommendations by a politician and a boss for hirings at the health district during Manno’s management. The Catania Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of the manager and ordered him to pay the costs. According to the judges in the text, it is clear what the journalist’s source is, and of which its reliability has been verified. Mr Giacalone indeed reported the statements by the MP Sinisi, Member of the National Anti-Mafia Commission, and the acts of the Commission itself. For the Court it is also evident – although not explicit in the acts – the reference to Matteo Messina Denaro, the undisputed leader of the mafia in Trapani.

Troupe Mediaset attacked in Parma
On August 31, journalist Elena Redaelli, a video operator and her assistant were attacked by a migrant at the Parma bus station. The crew was recording a report for the Rete4 show Dalla Vostra Parte, following the aggression against a driver who had been beaten by a young man with a dark skin on August 30th (read). In the video (watch) you see the man insult the journalist, offending her and approaching the crew in a threatening manner so that it was necessary to turn off the cameras and warn the law enforcement, who took away the man.

“Jackals, scoundrels and defeatists”: Imam insults Filippo Facci and Magdi Allam
Journalist Filippo Facci, former Corriere della Sera‘s deputy chief editor and politician Magdi Allam and leader of the Northern League Matteo Salvini, have been called “jackals, scoundrels, and defeatists” by Sharif Lorenzini, an imam of the Islamic community in Italy. He did so – because of some opinions expressed by them about the Islamic religion – during an interview with Silvia Dipinto, a journalist of La Repubblica, on September 1. “I will not press charges because I believe in the maximum freedom of expression, but Islamic leaders should learn to point to enemies as individual citizens with name and surname can be perceived as a true and good threat”, Facci told Ossigeno, explaining the plot of his article of September 5 on Libero in which, besides criticizing his colleague Dipinto for allowing Lorenzini to easily pronounce his threats, and he is amazed at FNSI’s lack of solidarity with him.

RAI. Journalist insulted during live radio broadcast
During the Radio broadcast of an episode of the show Radio Anch’io (on Rai Radio Uno) on 30 August, the journalist Francesca Musacchio of Il Tempo was insulted by Andrea Alzetta, leader of Action, a movement for the right to housing involved in the housing emergency of the capital (read more). Insults were pronounced after the journalist had expressed his opinion on the alleged racket on squatting practices in different buildings by refugees, investigated by the Rome prosecutor. Musacchio will claim damages for insults.

Ostia. Journalist threatened on Facebook
Antonino Di Giovanni, a non-professional journalist from Ostia, on August 22, received a comment on his Facebook page Antonio Di Giovanni “Pensiero Libero” where a woman wrote: “We look forward to seeing you the X Municipal Council so we can beat up good enough.” The threat was put under a post (titled “THE POLITICAL PARADOX OF THE X MUNICIPAL COUNCIL”) of July 7, in which Di Giovanni talked about the political-administrative and social situation of Ostia, where he lives. “I do not know the lady, I do not know who she is or whether she talks personally or on behalf of someone,” the reporter told Ossigeno, after pressing charges against the woman for threats by going to the police (Article 612 cp.). “To be a journalist in this climate becomes hard. I write on my Facebook page, a platform created for discussion, and I would prefer a confrontation, even a tough one, but one which allows mutual growth, not threats, which are just sterile violence.” Solidarity with Di Giovanni was expressed by the Roman Press Association.

Privacy. Accused of republishing the photo of an athlete. Trial sent to the archives
On July 25, the proceedings against the journalist of the Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno Nino Vinella were sent to the archives, filed on 25 August 2014 for breach of the privacy law by Vincenzo Mennea, brother of the famous athlete Pietro Mennea, due to a photo published on March 21 on the Facebook profile “Barletta for Pietro Mennea”. The Trani Judge for the preliminary investigations, Angela Schiralli, in the archive order states that these were images already published in the past by newspapers (in 1972 and 1979) and thus were of public domain, and that the intent of Vinella’s republishing was to pay homage to the athletic talents of Pietro Mennea.

President of Campania Region, De Luca, defines two reporters as “imbeciles”
The President of the Campania region, Vincenzo De Luca, defined as “imbeciles” those who through videos or photos “try to stain the image of hospitals that are indeed a national model”. He said so on July 21, during the usual space of about half an hour that a local broadcaster, Lira TV, dedicates to him every Friday.
Insults relate in particular to a fact of July 17: journalists Antonio Musella (Fanpage.it) and Nadia Cozzolino (DIRE agency), accompanied by the MP Arturo Scotto, were at Cardarelli Hospital in Naples to film and denounce the phenomenon of hospitalization in the hospital corridors, a problem that has been going on for years. The two chroniclers have released the videos and photos taken along the corridors on their news outlets (watch the videos: Fanpage.it and DIRE agency). Musella commented on the facts to Ossigeno: “Beyond the single episode,” De Luca “continued a policy of periodic insults against journalists, especially those dealing with health and waste management, always hot issues compared to the problems of the Region. It is normal for a politician to defend himself from journalistic inquiries, but it is not normal and it is unacceptable to use an insult as a method of communication.”

Updates on previous attacks

Abruzzo. Admitted evidence and witnesses in the Mandara trial
The judge of the civil court of Pescara has admitted documentary evidence and witness in the proceedings that sees opposed the president of the Abruzzo Region Luciano D’Alfonso and the journalist Lilli Mandara, who curates the blog Maperò. The judge set the next hearing on December 20th.

Benevento. He denounced poor meals. Sent to the archives a complaint against a journalist
On 12 September the Judge for the preliminary investigations of the Court of Benevento sent to the archives a lawsuit for libel against the journalist Antonio Crispino, a collaborator of Corriere.it, author of an inquiry into the poor meals provided by a well-known restaurant to some mess-halls in Benevento and the surrounding province.

Other important news

Threats to Tizian were an “attack on the constitution,” the judges say
Giovanni Tizian “had to seal his own existence, compromise his freedom of movement,” suffering “extreme harm”: so state the motivations for the ruling of the Black Monkey trial, which sentenced 23 people as belonging to a ‘ndrangheta operation lead by Nicola Rocco Femia. For writing two articles citing the latter and his illicit business, in 2011 Tizian was threatened with death and began to live under police protection.

Ossigeno in Madrid. Without transparency there is no information
They collaborated on this monthly report: Carmela Adinolfi, Beatrice Basaldella, Loredana Colace, Death Raffaella, Matteo Finco, Gianni Montesano.

MF

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