Ossigeno’s legal aid to a reporter denounced by a policeman

The journalist Alessio Viscardi is on trial for violation of privacy because he spread a video of the police forces during violent riots

OSSIGENO – 1st June 2023 – Ossigeno per l’Informazione, together with Media Defence, will provide free legal aid to the journalist Alessio Viscardi who faces a trial for violation of privacy following the formal complaint of a police officer who accused him of having posted  a video on Facebook that shows him, along with other policemen, dealing with  public order. The journalist will be assisted by the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro, coordinator of the Ossigeno Legal Desk.

The video was released during a protest demonstration by Ultima Generazione  (a civil disobedience group against the climate crisis), which resulted in serious acts of vandalism. The video shows, inter alia,  some police officers warning  journalists and video makers not to film them while a group of protesters destroyed with pickaxe handles the windows of an Energy Store in Rome of the major oil company ENI.

OSSIGENO believes that the journalist has legitimately exercised the right to report and is galvanised  by this episode to make everyone understand what the freedom to inform citizens about public events and issues of public interest is and to let people know that when this right to report a public event is exercised  no prior permission is necessary. As required by law, this also applies to police officers working in public places.

JOURNALISTS AND POLICE OFFICERSOssigeno has already dealt with other similar cases, underlining the need for initiatives aimed at promoting greater mutual understanding (fair play) between the forces of law and order and journalists involved in news gathering. Such initiatives would be useful to avoid futile conflicts. Furthermore, publicly discussing episodes like this helps citizens to recognize, with concrete examples, what are the circumstances that in various situations justify the relaxation of the right to have privacy respected, generally with regard to public figures or those who play a public role.

THE FACTS IN DISPUTE – Alessio Viscardi is a video reporter. He is currently one of the coordinators of Videohub, a group that provides photo and video news services to AGTW (a news agency specialising in live video). On April 14th  2022, the journalist Alessio Viscardi was following the activity of an AGTW operator sent to where a protest demonstration called by the Ultima Generazione movement was taking place.

When some activists, protesting against the alleged activities of multinationals against the development of eco-sustainable resources and oblivious to the presence of the police, began to smash the windows of an ENI-store with pickaxe handles, Viscardi streamed the live images to the publications subscribing to the service and also uploaded the live video onto AGTW’s Facebook page.

Towards the end of that video police personnel are shown ordering journalists to turn off their cameras, indicating that they do not like their presence.

The intolerance of the police towards journalists who cover protest demonstrations is an old problem in Italy. Ossigeno has already dealt with it following the trial brought against the journalist Cosimo Caridi who was charged with interrupting a  public service.

Viscardi, on the other hand, is accused of violating privacy after being identified by the Postal & Communications Police (a specialised division of the national police concerned primarily with cyber-crime) as the user who published the disputed video. Asked to appoint a lawyer, Viscardi appointed the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro. The charge is for invasion of privacy,

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