Wiretapping, freedom of the press and EU appeals

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Journalism is not an easy job nowadays. But we are not talking about the newspapers crisis or the need of innovation in the media system. The freedom of the media is under attack, especially the investigative journalism in Italy. Four years of detention would be the penalty for a person who records a private conversation and uses it, for example, publishing it on the newspaper.

Between 2011 and 2015, according to a report of the association Ossigeno per l’Informazione, thirty journalists have been condemned to seventeen years of detention in total. The execution of the penalties has mostly been  suspended, except for Alessandro Sallusti and Francesco Gangemi, in other cases the penalties have been converted in  fines. Photo reporters, bloggers and journalists are the most hit according to the data collected by the organization. It is under the eyes of everyone the case of Lucia Borsellino and of the two journalists of Espresso investigated for defamation and in one case for calumny as well. Will anybody in Italy going to look for the truth behind the lines, without just reporting press releases and news agencies news if the risk is so high ? In a rank by Reporter Without Borders, Italy is at position seventy three.

EU Human Rights Court :the detention for defamation is excessive

In different occasions the EU already intervened to condemn the Italian law and its implementation on the interceptions and regarding their publication “Our legislation and its implementation – Michele Nicoletti president of the Italian delegation at Council of Europe-  have been already condemned by the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg in 2013, it considered excessive the detention for the defamation, except in cases of extraordinary circumstances like the instigation to the racial hate or violence”.

With this motivation the Court of Strasbourg intervened after the appeal of the former director of the Il Giornale Maurizio Belpietro, who was condemned for an article published in November 2004. Il Giornale published an article signed by the senator Raffaele Iannuzzi with the title “Mafia, tredici anni di scontri tra P.M. e carabinieri ed il sottotitolo” “Cosa si nasconde dietro il processo al generale Mori e al colonnello “Ultimo” per il covo di Riina”. Belpietro has been condemned to pay 110 thousands of euro and to four months of detention. The detention has been suspended.

While in the last years there were different calls from OECD, the Council of Europe and Onu representatives to Italy. Dunja Mijatovic from OECD, in 2014 intervened in a meeting with journalists, lawyers and judges on defamation by media  and she said “The international organisms like Council of Europe, Onu and Oecd consider priority that the media’s freedom would not be criminalized. It is necessary of course to pay attention to the privacy and the dignity of people in the media, but it needs to be guaranteed also the maximum work of media, that is considered a vital support for the life of all kind of freedom. In other words if the press freedom is under attack or limited , all the complex of citizens rights suffers. The prevision of detention for media crimes, also if in many countries like Italy the detention for journalists connected with their work is not operating, it becomes an alibi for other countries that hit as crimes political or religious opinions ; quite often other countries with low guarantees in civil rights appeal to the fact that in Italy, France or Germany the detention for media crimes is written in the codes “.

The Council of Europe called Italy , only few months ago, on the media freedom and after the resolution Flego, by the Croatian mep Gvozden Flego on the protection of media freedom in Europe that said that Italy was late with the implementation of the necessary measures to guarantee the media freedom. The Council of Europe in particular asked to Italy to modify the national law on defamation, the requests have been presented to the Venice Commission in 2013.



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