Vatican Is Still Charging Journalists for Publishing Secret Documents

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Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi arrive at the Vatican on November 24.Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO

Despite protests from media groups and a request to dismiss the charges, the Vatican is going forward with a trial against two journalists and the three Vatican employees who reportedly leaked secret Holy See documents to them. The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe all asked the Vatican to drop the charges, as publishing once-secret documents is basically part of a reporter’s job description. Many people have been tweeting with the hashtag #NoInquisition in support of the journalists. 

According to the Associated Press, the two books published by Italian journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi “detail waste and mismanagement in the Vatican administration, the greed of some cardinals and bishops and the resistance Pope Francis is facing in trying to clean it up.” As Reuters points out, the scandal caused by the leaks is similar to the one that happened before Pope Benedict’s resignation — “Vatileaks.”

The trial began on Tuesday, in the courtroom for the Vatican’s criminal tribunal. Fittipaldi noted during an opening statement that he would never face trial for such a crime in Italy, as reporting is “an activity that is protected and guaranteed by the Italian constitution, by the European Convention on Human Rights and by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.”

The danger of this trial for the Vatican,” according to the BBC,” is that it will make it look vengeful and draw even more attention to the allegations contained in the books.” The report adds that if the reporters are sentenced — they face up to eight years in prison — it would create a “bizarre diplomatic situation. The Vatican has only four holding cells and no long-term prison.”

Another big media trial has been happening in Iran, where Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been held for more than a year while facing espionage charges. According to Reuters, he was reportedly sentenced to prison.