The International Publishers Association (IPA) and the Associazione Italiana Editori (Italian Publishers Association, AIE) has welcomed news that the case against the two 'Vatileaks 2' writers had collapsed, but condemned the Vatican's attempt to intimidate the journalists into silence.
On Thursday afternoon (7 July), a Vatican court acquitted Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who both published exposés on endemic corruption and financial misconduct in the Holy See, after the judges ruled they did not have the authority to examine their cases.
Two other defendants, communications consultant Francesca Chaouqui and Spanish prelate Angel Vallejo Balda, respectively received an 18-month jail sentence and a 10-month suspended sentence, while Balda's assistant, Nicola Maio, was also acquitted.
However, the IPA and AIE firmly believe Nuzzi and Fittipaldi should never have been put on trial. They were professional journalists working in the public interest, and at no time did their work put Vatican State security in jeopardy. In addition, the prosecutors made no distinction between the writers and the other defendants, even though Chaoqui, Balda and Maio were Vatican employees.
"A shameful indictment of the Vatican's priorities"
IPA President, Richard Charkin
IPA President Richard Charkin said: 'We are of course delighted that common sense has prevailed and Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi have been acquitted. However, the intimidation of these journalists—instead of tackling the sleaze they have courageously exposed—is a shameful indictment of the Vatican's priorities. Professional, investigative journalists uncover truth in the public interest; they perform an essential public service by holding authority to account, and they therefore deserve legal protection. At no time did they pose a demonstrable risk to state security, so it is absolutely right that this case was thrown out.'
"We reaffirm our strong belief in the freedom to publish and freedoms of opinion and expression."
AIE President, Federico Motta
President of the AIE, Federico Motta, said: 'As publishers we are satisfied with the acquittal decision. We reaffirm our strong belief in the fundamental principles of freedom to publish and the freedoms of opinion and expression.'
"An absurd court case that saw two journalists accused of no more than doing their job"
Gianluigi Nuzzi's publisher, Lorenzo Fazio
Publisher Lorenzo Fazio, vice president and editorial director of Chiarelettere, which published Nuzzi's book Via Crucis (English: Merchants in the Temple) said: 'The acquittal of Nuzzi and Fittipaldi is a great victory for press freedom. It followed an absurd court case that saw two journalists accused of no more than doing their job. It is with relief that I, as a publisher, welcome this judgement, which encourages and comforts all those who are fighting for a free press and against the degeneracies of any power, including that of the Church.'