The editor of Il Tacco d’Italia, the news site she founded in 2003, and a specialist in covering Sacra Corona Unita, a regionalcrime family known as Italy’s “fourth mafia,” Mastrogiovanni has until now received a partial form of police protection.
But it is clearly inadequate in the light of the latest intimidation to which she has been subjected in connection with her reporting, which includes coverage of organized crime’s involvement in waste management in Puglia.
Lecce’s prefect, Maria Teresa Cucinotta, decided that Mastrogiovanni needed full police protection after she received about 4,000 emails containing death threats, and a police investigation confirmed Sacra Corona Unita’s role in this intimidation campaign.
But Cucinotta’s decision needs to be endorsed by officials in Rome so that Mastrogiovanni will be able to receive full police protection whenever she visits the southern part of Puglia, Salento, the region where she was born and where she lived until she and her family were forced to leave a year ago.
“This journalist will continue to be exposed to serious death threats if no action is taken,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union desk. “We already called on the local authorities to do everything possible to protect her when she was getting a lot of threats last summer. We welcome the prefect’s decision to grant her this protection but its implementation depends on the provincial committee for public order and security in the cities of Bari and Lecce.”
Investigative reporters in Italy, which is ranked 46th in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, are often targeted by the country’s mafia networks. Paolo Borrometi, an expert on the Sicilian mafia, escaped a murder attempt in Sicily last May. Around ten Italian journalists are currently receiving around-the-clock police protection