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Italy. The most dangerous news from Ossigeno February-March 2018 28th April 2018

This bimonthly summary of attacks on media workers in Italy is compiled by Ossigeno per l’Informazione for the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) with the support of the European Union.

Besides the bi-monthly statistics published separately (see here) below we present in summarized form twelve of the most important violations out of the 66 identified and verified by Ossigeno in February and March 2018 with the related news of the others published on the website

One of the most significant cases of these two months has been the invasive search ordered by the magistrates to discover the source of news published by the journalist Tiziana Simula, editor of the daily newspaper in Olbia, Nuova Sardegna. An episode which is regarded as unjustifiable not only by journalist organisations but also by lawyers in Sardinia.

STONES THROWN AGAINST A TEAM IN PALERMO -On the 25th February 2018 in Palermo, the correspondent of Striscia La Notizia, Vittorio Brumotti and his team were struck by a hail of stones and cement blocks thrown on to their car from the rooftops of houses whilst they were travelling through the Zen neighbourhood where they had recorded several instances of drug dealing (Read here).

INVASIVE SEARCH IN SARDINIA – Tiziana Simula had published two articles on the judicial inquest into a legally irregular auction of a villa on the Costa Smeralda for which six magistrates were being investigated for interference in an auction. To discover the source, the procurator of Tempio Pausania on the 27th March searched the journalist’s home, her car and the editorial offices of La Nuova Sardegna. In addition he has confiscated the mobile phone, the computer and archival documents of the journalist (Read here).

IN NAPLES, JOURNALISTS INVESTIGATED FOR A SCOOP REPORT- Equally significant was the case of Fanpage. This was also due to the disproportionate action by the same sort of magistrate. The online newspaper of Naples had produced a shocking video investigation, done in the field using a man in a sting operation. The investigation revealed a series of bribes and collusion between politicians, businessmen and public officials for the contracts for the disposal of waste from Campania in other regions. On the 14th February before the publication of the first instalment, magistrates demanded all the original filming and issued a warrant for the two journalists who had made the reportage. The basis of the offence was inducement to corruption. Other warrants were issued to businessmen and politicians several of whom resigned. In the following days, the journalists of Fanpage received threatening and offensive reactions. Two fires probably arson, seriously damaged dwellings and commercial activities of relative of the authors of the investigative reporting (read here).

A SMACK ON THE INTERVIEWER – An episode analogous to the head-butting which in November 2017 in Ostia broke the nose of the journalist, Daniele Piervicenzi (read here) took place on the 9th February 2018 in Bari. The well-known RAI journalist, Maria Grazia Mazzola, correspondent of TG1, whilst she posed questions to the wife of the alleged boss Lorenzo Caldarola, part of the Strisciuglio clan, was struck in the face with a powerful blow which required her to have medical treatment and wear an orthopaedic collar for ten days. The journalist had asked her to give an interview to be part of an investigation into the “baby gangs” which are spreading in Puglia. The relevance arose from the fact that both the two sons of the woman have previous convictions (read here). Ossigeno notes that also in this case to charge the aggressor with violence compounded by a mafia method.
A significant number of cases (numbers, type and percentages) relate to intimidations of various types against journalists, from “shut up” to real and proper death threats.

A JOURNALIST FROM RAI2 IS UNDER POLICE PROTECTION – Since the 27th February the police HQ of Naples has set up vigilance service to protect the RAI2 journalist Claudia Marra who had received through social networks threats, regarded as credible, of defacement and death. She received insults and threats for having cancelled an interview on live television with a relative of three Neapolitans missing mysteriously in Mexico at the end of January (read here).

THREATENED WITH A PISTOL – On the 24th March at Arzano (Naples) the journalist Giuseppe Bianco, a collaborator with the daily newspaper Il Roma was threatened by a man who showed him that he had a pistol under his jacket. Bianco was in the street in front of his house. The man arrived on a motorbike with his face covered by a full helmet. He showed Bianco the pistol and told him “Don’t speak, keep quiet”. Then he rode off (Read here).

INTERRUPTION ON A TV STUDIO – On the 20th February 2018 in Rome, thirty militants of the right-wing movement, Forza Nuova made their way into the building which housed the television studios of the television network La7 and attempted to participate in the recording of the weekly talk show Di Martedi anchored by the journalist Giovanni Floris. The journalist refused. The police intervened and the matter was resolved peacefully (Read here).

THEY DISTROYED HIS CAR – On the 4th March the sociologist and journalist Marco Omizzolo discovered that his car had been severely damaged by unknown vandals who had slashed the tyres, perforated the hood, broken a window, scratched the right hand side of the car and shattered the bumper. The serious damage is understood to be an act of revenge for the journalist investigation with which Omizzolo exposed the activity around Rome of the so-called agromafia, the phenomenon of day labourers and the exploitation of migrants (Read here).

HACKERS BLOCK THE WEBSITE FOR TWO WEEKS – In Palermo from the 25th January to the 6th February 2018 the website of the newspaper Gazzettino di Sicilia has been put offline on several occasions by unknown hackers. The most significant episode took place on the 27th January on the occasion of the Day of Memory (Read here).

SUED SEVEN TIMES FOR AN INVESTIGATIVE BOOK – Ossigeno has devoted a special dossier and a video interview (see here) to the so-called “Genchi Case” that is to the case of the book of the same name for which the author, the journalist Edoardo Montolli has faced seven trials for defamation in print. In six trials Montolli has been found not guilty. In one trial he received a sentence for defamation against which he intends to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Ossigeno has examined and promoted the case in sofar as it is emblematic of the condition of many journalists who have to face criminal and civil trials, often at their own expense, for having written uncomfortable truths. After the publication in 2009 of the investigative book entitled Il Caso Genchi – A man at the mercy of the State (Alberti Publishers), the journalist Edoardo Montolli has been compelled for seven years to defend himself in front of judges of an avalanche of accusations of defamation, of violations of privacy and confidentiality. The book is a reconstruction of the inquests of deputy superintendent Gioacchino Genchi, former information technology consultant to various official attorneys, specialised in the analysis of phone records and accused in January 2009 of having intercepted illegally 350,000 individuals (an accusation of which he was cleared) (read here).
Video – Montolli: Because of “The Genchi Case” my right to criticise has been sanctioned (Watch here).

HE WILL BE ASSISTED IN COURT AT OSSIGENO’S EXPENSES – Ossigeno has accepted the request from the reporter Mauro D’Agostino, sued for several articles published by the online newsletter, to receive legal aid in a trial for defamation in print for which he does not have the support of his publisher.
D’Agostino has published various articles on developments in the job crisis in the factories which produce garments for the well-known companies, Brioni S.p.A. and Roman Style S.p.A. leaders in the male clothing sector. The journalist, inter alia, criticised the company policy based on cuts and criticised the directors who awarded themselves production bonuses. To an article of the 7th June 2017 he had attached seven files with the salaries of the directors. On the 17th November 2017 the police confiscated the seven files. Subsequently D’Agostino received a warrant (Read here).

TOO MANY THREATS, MARILU LEAVES TOWNT – The journalist Marilu Mastrogiovanni told Le Iene in a dramatic video interview entitled, “She writes, they threaten” that because of the continual threats and intimidations she was receiving, she was resigned to leaving Casarano and moving to another city. Marilu created and published for years the online newsletter, “Il Tacco d’Italia”. She published, exclusively, important investigations on the mafia infiltration into public administrations and agencies of her city and of the Salento (See here).


Hanno collaborato a questo report mensile: Dario Barà, Loredana Colace, Raffaella Della Morte, Ilaria Fevola.

This report has been enriched by numerous voluntary contributions from collaborators who share the social goals of Ossigeno. These contributions are added to those collaborations paid for by funds from the European project of the ECPMF consortium. Notable savings have been made thanks to free services provided to Ossigeno by agencies and institutions.

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