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Italy. The most dangerous news from Ossigeno. October 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

  • Two conferences in Rome under the patronage of UNESCO and the major national authorities to celebrate the International Day for the end to impunity for crimes against journalists.
  • A workshop at the University of Ghent (Belgium) with authoritative speakers from various countries and one hundred students, aimed at promoting the training of observers specialised in fact-checking and in the documenting of threats to journalists and of all other violations of press freedom and freedom of expression.
  • A press conference in Brussels to launch the proposal to create in every country a public hot-spot through which to transmit to the institutions the most worrying alarms over the security of journalists.
  • The presentation of awards to the authors (one Italian, one Belgian) of two theses about press freedom.
  • The presentation of the anthem to press freedom, Libertà va cercando (Looking for Liberty), composed on the initiative of Ossigeno.
  • The production and the distribution of verified, documented information on 24 reporters (journalists, bloggers and other media workers) which in the preceding weeks have been subject to serious and unjustified attacks because of their information gathering activity.

This list summarises the principal activities carried out by Ossigeno in October 2017 as part of the European project in which it participates as member of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) consortium (read more).

The activities of Ossigeno for the International Day to End the Impunity for Crimes against Journalists
On Ossigeno’s initiative, the International Day to End the Impunity for Crimes against Journalists was celebrated on the 23rd October in a solemn and official way in the Italian Senate by its president, Pietro Grasso and by representatives of the various parts of government and by the world of journalism. Two journalists who have living for years with police protection because of death threats spoke to an audience composed of parliamentarians, politicians, observers and 125 journalists.

The celebration of the International Day was followed on the 30th October by a conference in the offices of the National Federation of the Italian Press (FNSI) with the principal speaker, Mehdi Benchelah of UNESCO and around 100 journalists. The key feature of this second public conference was the Ossigeno Dossier which clearly shows the very serious media situation in Italy’s capital with an alarming statistic: 30% of the attacks in Italy take place in Rome.

Impunity: “Journalists attacked, the guilty unpunished”
Impunity. Marini (Odg): Ossigeno rings loud a real alarm bell
Impunity. Grasso: the greatest threat is loneliness
Impunity. Laura Boldrini, protect investigative journalism better
Impunity. This scenario shall not leave anybody indifferent, Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni says
Impunity. Just 1% of threatened journalists gets justice, Ossigeno per l’Informazione reports
Impunity: “We cannot remain indifferent to attacks in Western countries”, Italian Ministry of Justice Orlando says
99% of Impunity. Figures, causes and possible remedies
“Freedom he looks for”. The new himn to freedom of the press

Impunity: The Conference “Alarm in Rome”
Alarm in Rome: in the capital 30% of all attacks
Rome. Unesco, Ossigeno and Asr render homage to journalists killed
Alarm in Rome. Vita (Article 21): libel reform can not end up in the attic
Alarm in Rome. Jazz and Ossigeno together in the search for freedom
Alarm in Rome. Tarquinio: right to be forgotten places new obstacles
Alarm in Rome: secretary Asr, break institutions’ scepticism
Alarm in Rome. Bonafoni: “its a low intensity war”
Alarm in Rome. Spampinato: monitoring is fundamental
Alarm in Rome. Benchelah (Unesco), doubled number of harassments against women journalists

The seminary at the University of Ghent, Belgium
It took place on the 10th October and it provided, inter alia, the occasion to illustrate the effectiveness of the method devised and tested by Ossigeno to monitor and highlight the attacks on media workers.
How to face up to the attacks on journalists and violent censorship | Press kit

Attacks, threats, intimidations: the most serious cases already publicised by Ossigeno (consult Ossigeno’s complete data on the attacks on media workers)
Rome: Journalists did not defame the TAR judge
On the 26th September the Rome Tribunal has ruled that there was no case to answer for the accusation of defamation by the journalists Antonio Padellaro and Carlo Di Foggia (Il Fatto Quotidiano), Valeria di Corrado and Gianmarco Chiocci (editor and editor-in-chief of Il Tempo) and Giorgio Mottola (correspondent of Report, Rai3). The reporters had been sued in 2014 for defamation by Linda Sandulli president of the section I of the TAR of Lazio, because in their articles and TV broadcasts they had speculated about a conflict of interest on her part – Read here

Taranto A referral to judgement for a threatening letter to a journalist
On the 7th September the Taranto Prosecutor has referred to judgement the ex-president of Taranto’s anti-racket section, Michele Cagnazzo, accused of a serious threat against Alessandra Macchitella, collaborator with Il Nuovo Quotidiano of Puglia

Genoa. Journalists attacked by “no-migrants” demonstrators
On the 19th October, the journalists Matteo Pucciarelli, Massimiliano Salvo and Davide Pambianchi were attacked in the Multedo neighbourhood by several demonstrators opposed to the arrival of a group of migrants. The demonstrators had jostled them trying to prevent them from taking photographs and filming – More detail

Calabria. Her car damaged while she filmed an investigation into public housing
The car of the journalist Antonia Russo (member of the association Informazione&Comunicazione) was damaged by unknown individuals whilst it was parked a short distant from where the reporter and her cameraman were filming as part of an investigation into the allocation of public housing in the historic centre of Rossano (Cosenza) – Detail here

Football. Hooligan attacks journalist before the Genoa-Bologna match
On the 30th September  before the start of the Serie A football match Genoa-Bologna in the parking lot of the Marassi stadium in Genoa, Pinuccio Brenzini, collaborator of TeleNord and of RadioNostalgia, has been repeatedly punched by a man who approached him from behind. The journalist recognised him as one of the leaders of the Genoa extremists and the following day he denounced him to the specialist police unit, Digos – More detail

Rimini: a journalist of Rainews24 insulted at the M5S convention
On the 23rd September Enrica Agostini, correspondent in Rimini at the annual convention of the 5 Star Movement, was virulently insulted by several participants at the convention whilst she was about to interview the senator, Nicola Morra – Details here

Rome: journalist insulted during a 5 Star Movement protest
On the 11th October, during a 5 Star Movement protest demonstration in piazza Montecitorio in Rome, Veronica Altimari (Roma Today) was virulently insulted by Grillo supporters with insults directed at the newspaper for which she works – Details here

Attacks: other unpublicised cases
Genoa: Journalist absolved of defamation of which he was accused
On the 12th July, the Genoa Tribunal has absolved, because there was no evidence, the journalist Antonio Amorosi, accused on the 14th May 2015 by the then 5 Star Movement presidential candidate for the Liguria Region, Alice Salvatore. Amorosi had written an article in which he described the support given to the Movement by the son of a boss of Calabrian organised crime, the ‘ndrangheta, referring to Carmine Mafodda, the son of Palmiro Mafodda a well-known Calabrian boss based in the municipality of Alma di Traggia (Imperia). Carmine Mafodda, with no convictions, was described as a friend and supporter of Daniele Comandini at the head of the 5 Star Movement’s candidate list for the regional elections. Salvatori had sued because he had felt indirectly libelled. In his rulings set out at the Genoa tribunal on the 18th August, the judge wrote that the contents of the article corresponded with the truth and the text was relevant and coherent and that “it was opportune that public opinion was aware”.

Football: the Modena president insults a journalist in a live broadcast
“Scoundrel”, “newsvendor”, “spokesman and bookkeeper of the Modena municipality”: with these offensive expressions on the 4th October  the president of the Modena football team Antonio Caliendo addressed, in a live broadcast during the programme Tribuna Stampa of TMWradio, the journalist Alessandro Iori of the local broadcaster TRC. During the broadcast the fact that the team no longer had a stadium in which to play was discussed. The municipality had evicted it because it had defaulted. The journalist, with the eviction notice to hand, had reconstructed the affair supplying facts and figures. The Ordine dei Giornalisti emphatically condemned the behaviour of the Modena president. Iori declared to Ossigeno: “ I am calm because, inter alia, the data which I presented are public and can be consulted”.

Facebook: racist insults to a journalist. Solidarity from the Marche professional association
On 11th October, the journalist Leila Ben Salah received insults of a racist nature on Facebook after having commented in a restricted group by Fabriano (An), the city in which she grew up, on the news of the opening of the headquarters of an anti-Islam party. In reply she received from people she doesn’t know, phrases such as “Go to another country where you fell more at ease, nobody invited you here”. One of them later apologised, Ben Salah explained. She has received numerous messages of solidarity among which that of the mayor of Fabriano Gabriel Santarelli and that expressed in a communiqué by the journalist union of Marche (Sigim).
Ben Salah told Ossigeno: “I remained very hurt by those words. Every time someone invites you to return to your country (which one doesn’t know which it would be given that I have been born here) is heart-breaking. However I must say I was very pleased that the mayor defended me as have many friends and colleagues who have known me for a long time”.

Football: sexist insults to a journalist by the Isernia coach
On the 17th September a sports journalist of received a vulgar sexist insult from the coach of the Isernia football team after an argumentative exchange between the two in front of players, journalist and police at the end of a match. Already previously there had been friction between the coach and the reporter over her critical articles. USSI and the Molise press association, in a note, condemned the episode inviting Isernia FC and AIAC (the football coach association) “to urgently intervene regarding their responsibility”. The journalist asked Ossigeno not to publish her name to avoid the risk of her being subject to further consequences.

Puglia: journalist moved away from a crime scene by a police officer. Then apologies from the authorities
On the 8th August in Bisceglie (BT) the journalist, Serena Ferrara, editorial director of the online daily, Besceglie Viva, was picked out by a police officer and made to move away from where she was to report on a shooting. The officer refused to look at the journalist’s press card and indicated he would take her to the police station “for unauthorised access to a private place”. Ferrara told Ossigeno that upon her asking for an explanation, he replied, “I decide which is public and which is private! And you cannot stay here!”. That same evening, the senior policeman at the station in Bisceglie met the journalist and apologised for her treatment saying that “the handling of the crime scene had got out of control”.

Umbria: Superintendent against an “unwelcome” journalist. Colleagues abandon the press conference
On the 5th October, Enzo Beretta, collaborator with the online newspaper Umbria 24, during a press conference given by the Questura of Perugia was asked by the superintendent Francesco Messina to leave the room as he was “not appreciated”. Considering this request unacceptable, all the journalists present (about ten) quit the room in a gesture of protest and solidarity with Beretta, causing the cancellation of the meeting. The reaction and the condemnation of the episode by the regional branch of the journalists association and by Assostampa Umbria was immediate. In the following days there was a meeting to clarify the situation between the journalist, the superintendent and the presidents of the association and the trade union.

Update: the latest on attacks reported on in the past
Piedmont: Three “No-Tav” protesters sentenced for violence towards a journalist
On the 11th October the Tribunal of Turin sentenced the protestors Davide Giacobbe, Giuliano Borio and Maurizio Mura to a year’s detention for violence inflicted on Erica Di Blasi (la Repubblica) attacked on the 10th August 2013 near the Chiomonte work site during a demonstration – Read more

Defamation: Appeal Court absolves journalists and editor of Panorama
On 23rd October the Appeal Court of Milan absolved the editor of Panorama Giorgio Mulé and the journalists Riccardo Arena and Andrea Marcenaro of the accusation of having libelled the former Procurator of Palermo Francesco Messineo in a critical article in 2009 about the running of the Procura – Read more

Aemilia. The sentences for threats to journalists confirmed, following an appeal
The Appeal Court of Bologna on the 12th September has substantially confirmed the sentences in the Aemilia trail in which businessmen, journalists and politicians had been accused. Also confirmed were the sentences to Domenico Mesiano and Alfonso Diletto for having threatened the journalists Sabrina Pignedoli of the Resto del Carlino and Gabriele Franzini of TelereggioRead more

Perugia: Businessman sentenced for threats to a journalist
The Justice of the Peace of the Tribunal on the 19th September found Leonardo Giombini guilty of having in June 2014 insulted on the telephone the journalist Enzo Beretta (of the daily newspaper La Nazione) following an article which the businessman claimed was libellous – Read more

Other significant news
Documentary makers arrested in Venezuela, released after two days
The Italian journalist Roberto Di Matteo was arrested together with his Swiss colleague Filippo Rossi and the Venezuelan Jesus Medina on Friday the 6th October whilst they were inside the Tocoron prison in Venezuela shooting a documentary on that South American country. Held in a nearby prison, the three were released on Sunday 8th October. Di Matteo and Rossi explained the episode upon their return to Rome during a press conference in the headquarters of the FNSI. “They arrested us with no justification, accusing us of having brought into the prison, without authorisation, audio-visual equipment whilst we were talking calmly with the prison governor who had allowed himself to be interviewed. Perhaps the problem was that we were with Medina, a journalist of the opposition. They confiscated all our equipment although we were able to recover the material filmed the preceding week”. “We thank Il Giornale“, they emphasised, “for having been the first to assist us and for having paid our air tickets to Italy where we preferred to return since we no longer felt safe”.

Thesis. Sarah Vantorre and Sofia Verza receive awards from Ossigeno-Grego Priz

Dario Barà, Loredana Colace, Raffaella Della Morte, Gianni Montesano and Matteo Finco have collaborated on this monthly report.

This report has been made possible by the fact that the funds from the contributions envisaged by the European project of the ECPMF consortium have been supplemented by numerous voluntary contributions from those who share the social objectives of Ossigeno. Other substantial cost savings have been obtained through the free supply of equipment and facilities on the part of agencies and institutions among which the rooms in which the two seminars of the 23rd and 30th October took place and the internet provision of the Senate.

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