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Italy24 November 2008

Disturbing wave of attacks on journalists in Rome

Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about a wave of attacks since the beginning of the month on Italian journalists working in Rome, in what seems to be a new campaign of intimidation by far-right groups.

“The Italian authorities must, as a matter of urgency, pay heed to the investigations being carried out to determine the origin of these attacks on the press and those responsible,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Mafia groups are already bringing an unacceptable level of pressure to bear on those who report on their activity. Italy cannot allow political movements to use this kind of violence against media working in the public interest.”

A TV crew from state-owned RAI 1’s news programme, TG1, was harassed yesterday while doing a report in the Rome suburb of Il Trullo about racist attacks on immigrants by young Italians. The report followed the arrests of five young residents on charges of theft and racist remarks the day before.

The crew was doing interview when a young masked man arrived on the scene with woman and accosted reporter Alessandra Di Tommaso and her cameraman. The woman insulted them and threatened Di Tommaso. The crew was forced to leave, accompanied by police officers.

The journalists’ committee at RAI I said : “The violent attack on the TG1 crew confirms the existence of an oppressive climate affecting all those who try to inform the public. Those who believe in press freedom can no longer tolerate such episodes.”

Three days before the Il Trullo incident, the car of Concita De Gregorio, the publisher of the national daily L’Unità, was vandalised by activists claiming to support the far-right movement Forza Nuova. The words “De Gegorio, stop the hate and lies, signed Forza Nuova” were sprayed in black on the car, which was parked outside her home.

The car of journalist Santo Della Volpe of RAI 3’s news programme TG3 was also vandalised in Rome’s Vescovio district on 9 November. Obscene drawings and a big Celtic cross were painted in white and orange on the car while it was parked outside his hope. The graffiti were signed “T.S.,” the initials used by neo-fascists group in the Rome district of Trieste-Salario. Della Volpe filed a complaint.

On 3 November, RAI 3’s programme “Chi l’ha visto ?” broadcast footage of student demonstrations taking place at Rome’s Pizza Navona in which the faces of certain far-right activists could be clearly seen. At around midnight, some 40 demonstrators burst into RAI’s studios on Via Teulada to protest against the broadcasting of this footage. The station also received phone threats that were recorded and passed to the police. RAI has filed a complaint about the incident, which the police are investigating.

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