Italian minister threatens to remove “Gomorra” author’s police protection
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini’s
threat to remove journalist and writer Roberto Saviano’s police escort after Saviano, who
has been getting police protection since 2006 because of mafia death threats, criticized the
new Italian coalition government’s migration policies.
A heated exchange between Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, and Saviano,
the author of “Gomorra,” a famous book about the mafia, has been under way on social
networks and in the media for several days and was continuing today.
In response to Saviano’s criticism of the government’s hostility towards migrants, Salvini told state TV yesterday that the authorities would “evaluate whether he runs any risk” and then possibly withdraw the round-the-clock protection he has been receiving for the past 12 years.
RSF firmly condemns the interior minister’s threat and supports this courageous and determined writer who embodies both the verve of Italian journalists and the grit of all those who refuse to yield to the dictates of criminal gangs. Saviano is a member of RSF’s Emeritus Board.
“Living under police protection 24 hours a day is not a luxury, it’s a constant torment,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkan’s desk. “Despite being the target of repeated threats, Roberto Saviano continues to tirelessly cover organize crime and, for that, he should receive the Italian government’s unconditional support and protection.”
Adès-Mével added: “Blackmailing a journalist who is the target of the one of the world’s deadliest criminal organizations because he does not agree with government policy is not only irresponsible but also dangerous.”
Covering a mafia network or criminal gang in Italy exposes reporters to deadly danger. Ten Italian journalists are currently receiving close, round-the-clock police protection while around 200 others received occasional protection in 2017.