List of probable threats to 52 Italian journalists detected in January – April 2022

Ossigeno per l’Informazione believes that each of the incidents reported below deserves a more in-depth verification, to establish whether – as it appears from an initial examination – they represent actual and unjustifiable violations of press freedom and freedom of expression and whether, as a result, journalists and other people who have been harmed deserve solidarity and assistance. Having already committed its resources to the timely verification of other incidents equally deserving of attention, the Ossigeno Observatory hopes that other organizations will be able to take up these cases and make their findings public, as Ossigeno does.

OSSIGENO 9th June 2022 – Between January and April 2022 Ossigeno detected 18 incidents of probable violations of the right to information against 52 journalists and media workers. 55% of the probable threats (10 incidents incidents) relate to “legal threats and court proceedings”, 27% (5 incidents) are “Warnings”; there is also one incident of “Physical Damage” and two of ‘Obstruction to information’.

The most affected regions are: Sicily, Lombardy and Tuscany with 3 violations each. Followed by: Basilicata and Lazio with 2 violations. One violation was recorded in the Emilia Romagna, Calabria, Sardinia and Campania regions.

The monitoring of these incidents was carried out in collaboration with UNESCO, as part of the M.A.P. – Monitoring – Protection Assistance, co-financed by Ossigeno and the Global Media Defence Fund, the fund created as part of the Global Campaign for Media Freedom within the framework of the UN Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists and the issue of Impunity.

RAGUSA – A manager of the Provincial Health Authority of Ragusa in December 2021 sued the journalist Gabriele Giannone, director of Ragusanews.it for articles relating to the management of the Covid epidemic. The accusations, formulated in the indictments, were deemed non-existent by the judge for the preliminary investigations of the Court of Ragusa. This was reported by Assostampa Sicilia (read here), which expressed solidarity with the journalist involuntarily involved in the affair from which he had to defend himself with a lawyer. LT

BASSANO DEL GRAPPA (VI) – On December 30th  2021, a team of the Bassano del Grappa (VI) editorial team of Rete Veneta, a broadcaster in the northeast of the Veneto Region, was prevented from attending the end-of-year press conference of the local health care agency, Ulss 7 Pedemontana, by its general manager Carlo Bramezza (read here Rete Veneta). The Order of Journalists of the Veneto took up a position in defence of the broadcaster (read here). GB

COMO – As reported by Il Mattino and Il Fatto Quotidiano in January 2022 the Court of Como acquitted the former correspondent of the Mediaset TV programme ‘Le Iene’ Mauro Casciari, together with other defendants in various capacities, from the accusation of defamation, illicit interference in the private life and slander, for a report entitled “The Hungarian puppies scam”, of January 2016. The prosecutor had asked the defendants to be sentenced to 2 years and 2 months of imprisonment. Defence lawyers Stefano Toniolo and Federico Giusti requested and obtained acquittal for the crime of slander and acquittal for the crimes of defamation and illegal interference due to the invalidity of the lawsuit presented by the plaintiff to the Prosecutor. The Court accepted the defence requests, acquitting all the defendants on the merits for the crime of slander and declaring both defamation and illegal interference inadmissible for lack of a valid complaint. LT

CASTROVILLARI (CS) – The mayor of Altomonte (CS) Giampiero Coppola, already convicted of aggravated defamation against the food and wine journalist and TV presenter Tommaso Caporale, went to trial again on the 13th January 2022 after opposition to the criminal conviction. According to the court of Castrovillari (CS) he allegedly “offended the reputation” of the journalist during a public meeting in May 2019, during the electoral campaign for the administrative offices of Altomonte, of which he was elected mayor. As reported by ‘Il fatto di Calabria’ Giampiero Coppola retaliated against Tommaso Caporale because he had attended some meetings on the list of the opposition. During an electoral initiative “broadcast live from his Facebook profile and projecting a newspaper article on a large outdoor screen accompanied by a photo of Caporeale” – addressing “the crowd” (the citation reads) he allegedly mocked the profession of Caporeale defining him as “the great organizer of communication, the great mind who will guide the marketing of the agro-food products of Altomonte and bring them to international markets”, referring to phantom “promises” for which he would have made arrangements. The mayor, in addition to being imprisoned for up to three years, also risks damages for having damaged the public image of the journalist who was  defended by the lawyer Michele Franzese. LT

POTENZA – On January 14th  2022, the journalist of  ‘Le Cronache Lucane’  Ferdinando Moliterni and his videographer were prevented from attending the shareholders’ meeting of Acquedotto Lucano company, because the presence of the press was not welcome. This was reported by the newspaper itself (read here) and Basilicata24 .  The journalists’ order of Basilicata and l’Assostampa Basilicata protested. The Acquedotto Lucano company  specifically stated that shareholders’ meetings are “always open only to shareholders. Journalists are welcome and they can obviously have access before and after the assembly, as has always been the case. A press conference will be held next week to illustrate the contents of today’s assembly “. But for Order of Journalists and Assostampa, ” Acquedotto Lucano’s note is the classic ruse when it states that journalists can access the shareholders’ meeting either before or after  it implicitly confirms the will to keep them out of the meeting, even preventing the classic minute and a half of innocuous television footage “. LT

ACIREALE (CATANIA) – In January 2022 Francesco Paolo Del Re, correspondent of Chi l’ha visto?,, the programme  of Rai 3 presented by Federica Sciarelli, was threatened by Rosario Palermo, former partner of the mother of Agata Scuto. The journalist was in Acireale to report on the disappearance of Agata Scuto, when Rosario Palermo, who is accused of killing his partner’s daughter and concealing her body, attacked him saying: “You have to go, I won’t tell you again. Stop talking. Don’t  talk anymore. You’ll get a whack  that will take your head off. You have to go now. Stop talking. Do you understand or not? I’ll hit you, in the time it takes to say it  I’ll have already hit you . Leave and don’t go near her house “. And other similar threats. The episode was shown during the January 19th  2022 episode of the programme  and reported by Il Giornale (read here). GB

FLORENCE – The president of the Fiorentina football club, Rocco Commisso, at the end of January 2022 sued the Gazzetta dello Sport and the publisher Urbano Cairo (who is also president of Turin Football Club) for libel, for an editorial signed by the deputy editor  Andrea By Caro. The article, in May 2021, criticized the press conference in which the number one of Fiorentina  took it out on the press, and inter alia, the article defined the president as “Don Rocco … straight out of an Italian-style B police film. “. Expressions  disliked by Commisso. The summons states that “the reputation of the entire Italian-American community” has been harmed and that the juxtaposition is “allusive, unacceptable and offensive”. La Gazzetta has not made any comments. On FiorentinanewsIl Fatto Quotidiano LT

BOLOGNA – As reported by  Il Resto del Carlino, the daughter of one of the former leader of the extreme right wing movement Ordine Nuovo  Paolo Signorelli sued the Rai3 investigative programme ‘Report’ and the right wing terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra, who made statements about the deceased politician, repeated in the investigative programme presented by Sigfrido Ranucci in the episode of Monday 24th January 2022. LT

ROME – The National Federation of Italian Press (FNSI) reports the news (read here ) of a civil suit for compensation for damages from defamation by La Repubblica. Vincenzo De Bustis Figarola, former General Manager of Banca Popolare di Bari between 2011 and 2015, felt defamed by a 2019 article by journalists Carlo Bonini and Giuliano Foschini based, according to him, on fake news. He sued the authors of the article, the then chief editor  of La Repubblica Carlo Verdelli and the publisher GEDI, asking for 50,000 euro. The Court of Rome at the end of January 2022 recognized the truthfulness of the facts reported , the public interest of the story and the restrained expression, decreeing the “full lawfulness of the writing”. De Bustis Figarola was sentenced to the reimbursement of the legal costs, amounting to  10,595 euro, and to other general expenses. LT

MONREALE (PA) – On Filodiretto Monreale and Monrealenews it is reported that at the end of January 2022 the investigating judge of the Rome Court rejected the request for dismissal of an alleged defamation by the journalist Massimo Giletti during an episode of ‘L’Arena’ on Rai1 in 2016. Giletti had said on live TV that Giuseppe Campanella, a forestry worker from Monreale (PA) was a member of a mafia family (the Campanellas), . But he then apologized recognizing the mistake for the homonymy. LT

FEBRUARY 2022

AREZZO – The investigating judge of the Court of Arezzo Claudio Lara in early February dismissed the lawsuit filed by the actor Enrico Montesano against the journalist Andrea Scanzi (resident in Arezzo) who allegedly slandered him in autumn 2020 on social media and on ‘Il Fatto Quotidiano’ for his anti-vaccination position and on the use of masks (see adnkronos.it). The judge found that the journalist only exercised his right to report despite having used sever and disputatious tones to express a critical judgment on the Rome actor’s behaviour. LT

ROME – The director of TG2 Gennaro Sangiuliano on 10th February 2022 presented a lawsuit against the authors of a despicable video inserted into  comments on social media regarding the Tg2 special dedicated to the Day of Remembrance in memory of the martyrs of the “Foibe”, the mass killings of ethnic Italians during and after World War II. National Federation of Italian Press (FNSI) and Il Tempo reported it. commented . The reaction of the Editorial Committee,  “A shameful and seriously offensive gesture towards the victims first of all but also towards the work of Tg2”, LT

CAGLIARI – As reported by Il Secolo d’Italia, threats and insults were directed in February 2022 against the linguist of the University of Cagliari Massimo Arcangeli, who is also the artistic director of the Festival of the Italian language, after his petition on change.org against the use of the schwa ( Ə; a character of the International Phonetic Alphabet) in public documents. The professor’s appeal was accepted across the board by intellectuals and personalities of all political backgrounds including, amongst others, Massimo Cacciari, Edith Bruck, Paolo Flores d’Arcais, Ascanio Celestini and linguists such as Francesco Sabatini, Luca Serianni and Claudio Marazzini. president of the Accademia della Crusca. “I received  everything – Massimo Arcangeli said – I have experience of cultural debates, even bitter ones, and I knew I was exposing myself. But I did not imagine that it would get to this, to the  point that I am discussing it with my lawyers ”. LT

 

POTENZA – Angelo Salinardi, former mayor of Ruoti (PZ) was  arrested as part of an investigation for persecutory acts, corruption among private individuals, slander, favouritism and abusive access to a computer system against the current mayor of the town Anna Maria Scalise. In a wiretap he insulted and threatened to sue the journalist Leo Amato and his newspaper, Il Quotidiano del Sud because the journalist and his newspaper did not acquiesce to his deviousness . The incident  which came to light in February 2022 and reported by Il Quotidiano del Sud itself, resulted from the documents and the final report of the investigations delivered to the prosecutors by Pasquale Di Tolla  of the section for offences against public administration of the Potenza Mobile Squad. LT

MILAN – On the night of March 13th 2022, persons unknown damaged the car of the correspondent of the TV show ‘Le Iene’ Giulio Golia, who found the car  in the morning with its window broken. Money and personal items had not been touched (Il Giornale). He formally complained himself in a video posted on his Instagram profile. “It’s the second time,” said Giulio Golia. LT

AVELLINO – The journalist of Prima Tivvù Michelangelo Freda was insulted by Pietro Braglia, the coach of the Avellino football team who, after the defeat at Catanzaro, did not appreciate the journalist’s questions about the match. Avellino Today reported this on February 7th  2022, also announcing the solidarity “of the editorial staff of AvellinoToday and the Order of Journalists of Campania with the colleague insulted”. GB

FLORENCE – Giuseppe Bevilacqua, prosecution witness at the 1994 trial which ended with life imprisonment for Pietro Pacciani, in February 2022 sued for defamation the freelance journalist Francesco Amicone, author of a massive investigation aimed at proving that the serial killer “Zodiac” and the monster of Florence could have been the same person. The journalist’s research focused precisely on Giuseppe Bevilacqua and was published from 2018 to 2021 on Tempi and other online newspapers. La Nazione broke the news and reconstructed the whole story with an article of 23rd February 2022. GB

MILAN – Il Secolo d’Italia revealed on February 19, 2022 that on the 10th  February 2022, the preliminary investigative judge of the Court of Milan Natalia Imarisio decided not to proceed against the former director responsible for Libero Pietro Senaldi and the journalist Matteo Legnani, sued for defamation by the former Speaker of the Lower House of the Italian Parliament Laura Boldrini for an article published in Libero in October 2018 entitled “Desirée Mariottini; Laura Boldrini: her ” resources “rape and kill, but she goes on to attack Salvini “. According to the judge, the article was an expression of the right to political criticism. GB

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