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Italy17 August 2004

Magazine office searched on prosecutor’s orders

Reporters Without Borders today condemned as a "serious attack on investigative journalism" and a violation of European human rights law police raids on the offices of the Milan weekly Gente and the house in Rome of journalist Gennaro De Stefano on 16 August.

"These searches threaten the privacy of journalistic sources and contravene rulings by the European Court of Human Rights that consider such action to violate article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights unless they can be justified by a ’pressing social need.’ Since this case goes back three years, there is no such need," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Police, acting on the orders of the Genoa prosecutor, were looking for documents relevant to an enquiry into street clashes during the July 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa. Material was seized from the offices of Gente, which is about to publish results of its investigation of the matter.

The weekly’s editor, Umberto Brindani, and reporter De Stefano were told during the searches that their names were on a list of people being investigated for alleged illegal possession of documents.

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