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Rome

Watchdog says 521 journalists threatened in Italy in 2015

Police protection provided for highest-risk cases

Watchdog says 521 journalists threatened in Italy in 2015

Rome, December 31 - Some 521 Italian journalists and bloggers suffered threats and abuse due to their work in 2015, Ossigeno per l'Informazione (OpI) said after verifying the reports. The watchdog organization backed by the Italian journalists federation FNSI and the professional journalists body Ordine Dei Giornalisti (OdG) stressed that the actual number of intimidations was at least ten times higher. OpI said that the figures showed that journalists working on sensitive issues were still at very high risk. In 2014, the watchdog reported 506 victims, a 31% increase on the previous year. In the month of December 2015 alone, some 49 journalists, bloggers, photojournalists, cameramen and editors were threatened and two - Alessia Candito and Michele Inserra - received death threats and are now living under police protection. Police protection was also provided to the two journalists Gisella Cicciò from La Gazzetta del Sud and Rosaria Brancato from Tempostretto.it, who reported on developments in a scandal involving 23 of the 40 Messina municipal councillors. According to national daily Repubblica, between 30 and 50 journalists were living under police protection in May of this year after receiving threats. In August of this year, a parliamentary anti-mafia commission report on the condition of journalists threatened by the mafia also said that organized crime attacks and intimidation against journalists had been rising steadily between 2006 and 2014. The report said such acts of intimidation go almost totally unpunished since "there are very few incidents in which the perpetrators have been identified, tried, and convicted". The report also pointed to the "unscrupulous and intimidatory" use of lawsuits to induce journalists to tone down their investigative reports. TV journalist Milena Gabanelli, for example, has been sued for over 250 million euros by various disgruntled subjects in the course of her career as a hard-hitting investigative reporter. The report went on to denounce a "more subtle but no less harmful form of violence, which is the situation of extreme job and economic insecurity of the vast majority of the journalists who come under threat". Freelancers are the "de facto supporting framework of the entire Italian news system" but have no juridical protection, and "this grave lack to remedied as soon as possible", the commission said.

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