European Federation of Journalists

An Italian court orders RAI journalists to reveal their sources

Picture credit: FNSI (archive).

The Lazio regional administrative court issued a ruling on 18 June 2021 ordering the investigative programme Report, of Italian public television RAI, to reveal the sources of the journalists who produced the report “Vassalli, valvassori e valvassini”, which was broadcast on 26 October 2020, on RAI3 channel. The investigation concerns the management of public funds in the Lombardy region and the Milanese lawyer Andrea Mascetti, a close associate of the Lega party. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins Italian journalists’ organisations FNSI and Usigrai in denouncing this blatant violation of the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

The court’s ruling grants the plaintiff, lawyer Andrea Mascetti, access to “the documentation linked to the preparatory activity of acquiring and gathering information” that fed the journalistic investigation. RAI is contesting the jurisdiction of the administrative court. RAI announced that it would appeal to the Council of State to challenge the administrative court’s decision, which erroneously equates the journalistic activity of a public media with an administrative procedure.

The Italian Federation of Journalists (FNSI) and the RAI Journalists’ Union (Usigrai), joined by the European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ), denounced a blatant violation of the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

“This court decision threatens any journalistic investigation of public affairs in Italy,” said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “The right of journalists not to disclose their sources is not a mere privilege to be granted or taken away depending on the alleged lawfulness or unlawfulness of their sources. The right of journalists not to disclose their sources is part of the right to information and it should be treated with the utmost caution. We call on the Italian justice system to urgently review this judgment, which is a real threat to democracy.”

The FNSI and Usigrai will give an update on the case at a press conference on Wednesday 23 June at 3pm.