Drop VatiLeaks 2 case, the Vatican urged

2015-11-23 21:25
Italian journalist and writer Gianluigi Nuzzi. (AP)

Italian journalist and writer Gianluigi Nuzzi. (AP)

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Rome - The Vatican should drop plans to try two journalists who obtained leaked documents from a papal reform committee, a media freedom watchdog said on Monday, on the eve of the start of criminal proceedings.

"I call on the authorities not to proceed with the charges and protect journalists' rights in accordance with OSCE commitments," the media freedom envoy of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Dunja Mijatovic, said in a statement.

The Holy See, which represents the Vatican in international affairs, is one of the 57 members of OSCE, a Vienna-based European security and democracy watchdog.

Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi both published leak-based books this month, which accuse some top prelates of living in outrageous luxury and resisting Pope Francis' drive to clean up Vatican finances.

On Saturday, the Vatican said the journalists would be tried along with the people who allegedly supplied them with information: Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, his Italian aide Nicola Maio and Italian PR consultant Francesca Chaouqui.

Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and Maio are accused of forming a criminal organisation and leaking Vatican state secrets, and risk up to 10 years' imprisonment. The maximum penalty for Nuzzi and Fittipaldi, who have been charged with soliciting leaks, is eight years.

In a letter to the La Repubblica newspaper, Fittipaldi denounced the Vatican trial beginning Tuesday as "illiberal".

"The hearings start tomorrow (on Tuesday) and I will be in the courtroom. But this trial which is starting is not against me. It is a trial against the free press," he said.

The scandal surrounding the journalists' books has been dubbed VatiLeaks 2, echoing the first VatiLeaks scandal triggered in 2012 by another book by Nuzzi based on confidential documents leaked out of the Vatican.

The journalist's main informer at the time was a valet of the then Pope Benedict XVI who was sentenced to 15 months in prison and pardoned shortly after. The affair allegedly contributed to Benedict's shock decision to resign in early 2013.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  vatican city  |  religion

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