Key Developments

  • Four journalists convicted of criminal defamation, handed prison terms.

  • Independent paper attacked twice with explosive devices.

In 2013, at least four journalists were convicted of libel in Italy, one of the few European Union states where defamation is still a criminal offense. In May, a Milan magistrate found three journalists guilty of libel and sentenced them to prison. In a separate case, a 79-year-old editor was sentenced to house arrest in October in connection with at least eight libel convictions against him between 2007 and 2012. The convictions were related to his articles and commentaries on public life in Italy, focusing on public figures involved in corruption cases. The independent newspaper La Stampa was attacked twice with explosive devices. Journalists continued to face threats and physical attacks from extremists and organized crime. According to OSSIGENO per l'Informazione, a local press freedom watchdog, scores of journalists received threats from unidentified persons throughout the year; several of them lived under police protection as a result.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2013.]

Journalists convicted: 4

Italy remained one of the few European countries where journalists faced prison sentences for libel. The threat of defamation charges is often used as a tool to intimidate journalists and prevent them from reporting on political corruption.

Despite domestic and international calls to decriminalize defamation, the Italian Parliament has so far failed to reform its laws, which date to the 1930s.

Recent cases:

October 5, 2013:
Francesco Gangemi, the 79-year-old editor of the monthly magazine Il Dibattito, receives a two-year prison sentence and is put under house arrest. The conviction stems from Gangemi's reporting and commentary on official corruption published between 2007 and 2012.

May 24, 2013:
Andrea Marcenaro, Riccardo Arena, and Giorgio Mule, reporters from Panorama magazine, are convicted of criminal libel stemming from a 2010 article discussing a Palermo magistrate's alleged family connections to the mafia. They are sentenced to up to one year in prison but the sentence is not applied. The journalists have appealed, according to the secretary-general of the National Federation of the Italian Press.

September 26, 2012:
Alessandro Sallusti, editor-in-chief of the Milan-based daily Il Giornale, receives a 14-month prison sentence on criminal libel charges in retaliation for an article critical of a local magistrate.

Times paper targeted: 2

The offices of the independent newspaper La Stampa were attacked twice in 2013.

Breakdown of attacks:

April 9, 2013:
An explosive device is sent to the Turin offices of La Stampa. The bomb does not detonate. An anarchist group claims responsibility.

October 3, 2013:
A parcel bomb is sent to the offices of La Stampa, addressed to journalist Massimo Numa. Experts deactivate the bomb before it explodes.

Internet penetration: 58%

According to data from the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, Italy ranks last in Internet penetration among the six founding members of the European Union, lagging well behind the second-to-last country, Belgium.

Anti-press violations: 386

At least 386 journalists were threatened in 2013, according to OSSIGENO per l'informazione, a press freedom monitoring group. Italian journalists continue to be threatened and physically attacked; some are forced to live in exile or under police protection, according to the group's research.

CPJ research shows that more than a third of journalists who are murdered are threatened before their death.

Most dangerous beats for reporters worldwide:

1. Politics
2. War
3. Corruption
4. Human Rights
5. Crime

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