L’articolo in inglese sulla legge bavaglio, riprodotto qui sotto, è stato scritto da me, Leo Sisti, per un blog internazionale, letto soprattutto da europarlamentari e da giornalisti europei (http://blogs.euobserver.com/alfter). Il titolo è “While the ball is rolling Italy Italy works on gagging-law” (“Mentre si giocano i mondiali di calcio, l’Italia prepara una legge bavaglio”). 

Prende lo spunto dal campionato mondiale di calcio in  corso in Sud Africa per informare i lettori che cosa sta avvenendo in Italia con la legge bavaglio.

Si cita l’esempio della prima pagina di “Repubblica” dell’11 giugno, bianca, per protestare contro la legge berlusconiana sulle intercettazioni. Al centro, il post it giallo con la scritta: “La legge bavaglio nega ai cittadini il diritto di essere informati”. Viene anche riportato il commento del direttore Ezio Mauro: “(la legge) è un  atto autoritario del governo ai diritti fondamentali dei cittadini – il diritto di essere informati- e al dovere dei giornalisti di informare”.

Segue poi l’iter che deve seguire il Ddl sulle intercettazioni, per diventare legge, dopo l’OK del Senato: nuovo voto alla Camera, dove il progetto è già passato nel 2009, firma del presidente della Repubblica Giorgio Napolitano.

Anche altri media hanno fatto sentire la loro voce. La “Stampa” dell’11 giugno ha pubblicato un editoriale “bianco”, mentre Sky Italia ha diffuso nei suoi Tg una scritta in nero di protesta contro la legge bavaglio.
Ezio Mauro ha detto: “Se la legge verrà approvata dalla Camera, il governo potrà decidere sulla quantità e sulla qualità delle notizie ‘sensibili” da pubblicare”.

E’ chiaro quali sono le notizie “sensibili”: quelle sui crimini dei colletti bianchi, e quindi, soprattutto, corruzione, che vedono come protagonisti grandi manager di Stato. Sono notizie “sensibili”, ovviamente, quelle su Silvio Berlusconi che parlando al telefono con alti funzionari Rai e dell’agenzia delle Comunicazioni chiede provvedimenti per chiudere trasmissioni come “Anno Zero”. Quello stesso Berlusconi che ha usufruito di leggi ad personam, fino a 40, per salvarsi dai processi.

L’obiettivo di Berlusconi è chiaro: mettere il silenzio a magistrati e giornalisti.
E’ lo stesso disegno accarezzato dal capo della P2 Licio Gelli con il
suo famoso “Piano di rinascita democratica”. P2 a cui Berlusconi è risultato iscritto con la tessera numero 1816.

While the ball is rolling Italy works on gagging-law

Some weeSome weeks ago this blog had to show the blank front pages from major Estonian newspapers in protest against a law against protections of journalists’ sources. Today the Watchdog Blog has to show blank front pages again, this time from Italy. “It is necessary to halt that law which defends power’s privacy,” comments police protected mafia-reporter Roberto Saviano in La Repubblica.
The Watchdog Blog is happy that Italian journalist Leo Sisti, an experienced reporter and author covering the fight against corruption and terrorism, has been so kind to write an article about the situation for the Watchdog Blog.
Brigitte Alfter

The Gagging Law
By Leo Sisti, L’Espresso, Il Fatto Quotidiano

Readers of “La Repubblica” must have jumped casting a glance to the blank front page of the Italian daily newspaper out in the newsstands Friday June 11. In the center of the page they could read the following message reported on a yellow post it: “The gagging law denies citizens the right of being informed”. After turning the page they could realize how deep the protest was against a new bill approved the previous day by the Upper House sanctioning with jail journalists who publish transcripts of  documents or wiretaps stemming from criminal investigations before a case is heard by a judge.

Ezio Mauro, La Repubblica’s editor, explained his exceptional decision with harsh words: the gagging law, doggedly wanted by primeminister Silvio Berlusconi running a center right coalition, “is an authoritarian act of the government on the basic right of citizens -the right of being informed- tied to the journalists’ duties to inform”.

The bill, before coming into force, must be approved by the Chamber of Deputies (Lower House) and signed into law by the President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano. But with a law jeopardizing democracy and freedom of speech the protest immediately spread to other newspapers and media, as well as public opinion.

The Turin daily “La Stampa” reported a blank column in its front page on June 11, while Sky Italia, the encrypted TV channel owned by the Australian tycoon Rupert Murdoch, broadcast the news with a black banner protesting the gagging law. A strike of the Italian journalists is set on July 9.

La Repubblica’s editor Mauro went on to say that “if the law is approved by the Lower House, the Government will decide over the quantity and the quality of the ‘sensitive’ news to be printed by newspapers and therefore known by readers”.

There’s no doubt on what the “sensitive” news are: almost day after day Italian media publish reports on arrests executed against high ranking State officials and politicians in high places on bribery charges. And about Berlusconi pursuing his personal interest in halting leaked transcripts reporting his conversations with high ranking managers of RAI, the State owned broadcaster. According to media reports he repeatedly requested RAI’s general manager, to ban airing critical political talk shows. Moreover during sixteen years since Berlusconi entered the political arena, he promoted up to 40 laws, dubbed “ad personam” (personal laws) that can shield himself from prosecutions and trials.

Berlusconi’s goal appears to be to silence media preventing journalists from reporting information on criminal investigations based on arrest warrants given to attorneys and therefore considered of public knowledge. Until the end of the preliminary investigation it will be possible to publish only a summary of the news. Reporting quotes derived from arrest warrants will be forbidden, unless running risks of being jailed or paying a fine. A time limit of 75 days is set to the duration of eavesdropping, extensions being admitted only in special cases.  Authorization for eavesdropping will come no more from a single judge, but a from a three-judge panel. As a result of the publication of leaked documents publishers will be fined from 300.000 euros up to 450.000 euros. If a priest is investigated or arrested, the prosecutor will be obliged to inform priest’s bishop. If a bishop is investigated or arrested, the prosecutor will be obliged to inform the Vatican. Even reporting names of prosecutors will be banned.

Under the new procedure it will take time, or rather years, before a case is heard by judges. And of course the public will never be acquainted with investigations.

Justice minister Angelino Alfano defends his law saying it is intended to protect people not linked to investigations whose names are sometimes reported in the press. But it’s easy to argue that in this case insignificant parts of the transcripts must be classified and kept in special archives run by prosecutors.

Berlusconi’s critics point out the gagging law is similar to a scheme already worked out in the seventies by Licio Gelli, the founder of the outlawed P2 masons lodge, under the name of “Democratic Rebirth’s plan”. According to some commentators Gelli’s plan aimed at setting up an authoritarian government in politics taming magistrates and journalists. Among the 932 members of Gelli’s P2 there were excellent politicians, chiefs of secret services, generals of Carabinieri and Silvio Berlusconi. In 1978 the current prime minister, whose family owns the most important private Tv empire, was initiated into P2’s secret ritual with the card number 1816.