The International Publishers Association (IPA) and the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) have condemned the Vatican for attempting to jail two authors who alleged corruption and financial wrongdoing in the Holy See.
The authors – journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi - are on trial along with three Vatican employees over documents leaked from the Vatican and then published in two new books: Avarice by Fittipaldi and Merchants in the Temple by Nuzzi.
The pair have been charged with criminal misappropriation and misuse of leaked documents. The three Vatican employees have been accused of illegally obtaining and leaking confidential documents.
According to the Telegraph, the books “lift the lid on alleged financial mismanagement within the Holy See, including the alleged use of charitable donations for refurbishing lavish apartments for cardinals and a former Vatican secretary of state.”
The IPA has joined with the AIE and European journalism and freedom of speech watchdogs to condemn the Vatican, with IPA president, Richard Charkin, calling the court case an “affront to the dignity of journalists and publishers everywhere.”
“A good journalist uncovers the truth wherever it may be hidden and any publisher worth their salt publishes the truth no matter the consequences,” Charkin said. “The Vatican’s prosecutors are regressing to the days when Galileo was gagged for telling inconvenient truths. To avoid being justly ridiculed as a blundering theocratic state out of touch with the world, the Holy See should immediately drop its prosecution of these two journalists who, after all, were just doing their job.”
President of the AIE, Federico Motta, added: “There is a total contradiction between what the authors Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi are charged with and the fundamental principles of freedom to publish and freedom of expression, which are the foundations of our work as publishers and are guaranteed by the Italian Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The facts revealed by the authors have an indisputable public relevance. The paradox is that the Vatican courts are not pursuing those who have squandered money but those who revealed the crimes.”
Stefano Mauri, president of publishing house GeMS, which is part owner of Nuzzi’s publisher Chiarelettere, added: “The fact that the authors’ own defence lawyers are not allowed into the court room is a betrayal of simple justice and a throwback to the days of the summary trials of the Inquisition.”
Avarice is available as an e-book in Italian on Amazon.co.uk and Merchants in the Temple is also available on Amazon's website, published by Macmillan's American imprint Henry Holt & Co.