An extract of the presentation by the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro at the conference “The alarm of the UN: too many threats to journalists”.
Four years ago we created the free legal aid office of Ossigeno (LINK), which works in support of both employee and freelance journalists who do not enjoy the so-called “indemnity clause”, which provides for the publisher to cover both legal expenses and the possible compensation for damages. There are many journalists in this situation, indeed practically all journalists.
This service was also set up in the wake of the serious situation of total abandonment which had befallen the journalists and the former director of L’Unita Concita De Gregorio due to the collapse of the glorious newspaper founded by Gramsci. The free service for beneficiaries was made possible thanks to a lender, the London-based NGO “Media Legal Defence Initiative” (MLDI), which I thank again publicly. Since 2018, Ossigeno has extended this service by assigning gratuities to cover partially the legal expenses to those journalists sued vexatiously and who have a trustworthy defence counsel.
We will continue as long as MLDI supports us, considering that in Italy nobody has so far felt compelled to help our mission to protect press freedom.
Our first results are exciting as we have won all the cases up to now. In short, we perform a fundamental service that is pure “oxygen” for the freedom to inform and be informed, offered free of charge to many journalists burdened with increasing risks and costs.