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"Vatileaks" verdict: Journalists acquitted, priest found guilty

Journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi (R) and Gianluigi Nuzzi smile as they leave the Vatican at the end of their trial, in Rome, 7 July 2016
Journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi (R) and Gianluigi Nuzzi smile as they leave the Vatican at the end of their trial, in Rome, 7 July 2016

REUTERS/Tony Gentile

This statement was originally published on on 8 July 2016.

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.

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.'

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, freedom of opinion and expression.'

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.'

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