Italy: Police search violates confidentiality of anti-mafia reporter’s sources
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns last week’s police search of the home of Salvo
Palazzolo, an investigative reporter who specializes in covering the Sicilian mafia and
other criminal networks for the Rome-based newspaper La Repubblica.
Police searched Palazzolo’s home on 13 September on the orders of prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Catania as part of an investigation into a suspected leak violating the confidentiality of a judicial investigation. They also examined the contents of his mobile phone and computer.
Palazzolo is accused of revealing, in an article in March, information about the investigation into the 1992 “Via d'Amelio bombing” in the Sicilian city of Palermo, which killed anti-mafia judge Paolo Borsellino and five of his police bodyguards and which is blamed on the Sicilian mafia.
For years, Palazzolo has been writing about the many ploys allegedly used by the authorities to prevent the public from knowing if the mafia acted alone when they murdered Borsellino, or if they had accomplices within the police force.
“We call on the relevant authorities to account for this grave violation of the confidentiality of a journalist’s sources,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “The core of an investigative reporter’s work is to provide the public with useful information. Journalists such as Salvo Palazzolo, whose professionalism is well established, must be able to continue investigating without being harassed by the authorities. They should never be treated like the criminals they are investigating.”
Palazzolo has been summoned to appear before the regional anti-mafia commission this week, amid a continuing outcry about the search of his home, in which he has received the support of all the media and journalistic organizations.
Covering organized crime exposes journalists to deadly danger in Italy, which is ranked 46th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Around ten Italian journalists are currently receiving around-the-clock police protection because of the threats they have received in connection with their coverage of organized crime.