• Capturing the press live

    Undersecretary in Giorgia Meloni’s government, Claudio Durigon, sued news media Domani. Photo: LaPresse.

    On 3 March, the police arrived at Domani’s newsroom, with the unusual aim of seizing an article that related to Claudio Durigon, an undersecretary in PM Giorgia Meloni’s government.

    The authors, Giovanni Tizian and Nello Trocchia, are authoritative reporters who cover the collusion between politics and organized crime. They are both under state police protection. One would expect the Italian authorities to safeguard their work. They came to seize it, instead.

    “It was so surreal,” says Mattia Ferraresi, managing editor of Domani, where I also work as a reporter. He had to print the article for the police. Durigon had sued us because of that article, which he didn’t even attach to his lawsuit. The piece was publicly available online.

    “There was no need for the raid, this is intimidation!” says Ricardo Gutiérrez, general secretary of the European Federation of Journalists. This is the second alert that Gutiérrez has written related to Domani in a few months: last autumn Giorgia Meloni sued my editor-in-chief Stefano Feltri and my colleague Emiliano Fittipaldi.

    These are “governmental SLAPPs” (Strategic lawsuits against public participation), with an aim to silence journalists. “Every time we write about Durigon, he sues us,” Trocchia says. “He has done this eight times.”

    When the police came, Tizian was on his way to the newsroom. Trocchia informed his colleague by phone: “Come, the police are here!” Tizian’s first thought was to protect sources: “Don’t let them touch our computers!”

    Following the raid, a coalition of media freedom organisations launched an alert at a European level. Progressive groups in the European Parliament (S&D, Greens, Left, Renew) expressed their support, and MEP Sophie in’t Veld asked questions to the EU Commission about the case.

    On 15 March, Rome’s attorney stated that seizing the article was improper and invalid. This made me realise how important it was to have a huge European mobilisation to condemn this act.

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