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ITALY: Massive Violation of the Confidentiality of Journalists’ Sources

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– Article by European Federation of Journalists published on 02 April 2021, available here.

In March 2021, three NGOs, Save the ChildrenDoctors Without Borders (MSF) and Jugend Rettet, have been probed by the prosecutors department in the Sicilian city of Trapani for aiding illegal immigration. In the course of this investigation, the police and prosecutors engaged in a massive violation of the confidentiality of sources of dozens of journalists. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its Italian affiliate, the FNSI, in demanding an explanation from the Italian authorities.

According to reports in the Italian press on 2 April, investigators seeking to establish links between migrant rescue operations at sea and traffickers apparently engaged in a massive violation of the secrecy of journalistic sources by monitoring the communications of journalists working on the case.

The investigators reportedly intercepted phone calls between journalist Nancy Porsia and her lawyer, Alessandra Ballerini. The judicial investigation is said to include a list of sources and contacts of other journalists, including Nello Scavo (Avvenire), Sergio Scandura (Radio Radicale), Francesca Mannocchi (L’Espresso), Carla De Pasquale (Report), Fausto Biloslavo (Il Giornale)…

“Who ordered such measures and why?” said the Italian Federation of Journalists (FNSI), asking for clarification. The FNSI also said the union will provide support to the monitored journalists.

The EFJ immediately announced that it would ask the Trapani prosecutors for an explanation of this massive violation of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. The case has been reported to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism.