International Federation Journalists slams FAO lawsuit against Insider

 BRUSSELS – The International Federation of Journalists condemned the UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) criminal libel case against the Italian Insider Friday calling it “a shocking attempt to silence independent journalism.”

The IFJ, the world's largest organisation of journalists, represents 600,000 media professionals from 187 trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries.

Established in 1926, the IFJ is the organisation that speaks for journalists within the United Nations system and within the international trade union movement.

 “Thanks for your email and details of a shocking attempt to silence independent journalism,” IFJ Deputy General Secretary Jeremy Dear told the Insider.

 The IFJ condemnation follows Reporters without Borders RSF issuing two statements deploring the decision by FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva to start two criminal libel suits against Insider chief editor John Phillips for allegedly tarnishing the image of the Rome-based agency and four of its senior executives.

 The first trial against Phillips is due to resume at the Rome Tribunal July 9 when Judge Chiara Riva has asked a whistleblower to testify as a defense witness.

 Phillips if convicted faces a possible prison sentence and fine and hundreds of thousands of euros of civil damages. RSF has said the trial is a clear attempt to silence Insider’s independent investigative reporting on the UN agencies in Italy.

 Phillips strongly denies libeling the FAO and stands by its reports, which have been picked up by news organisations as diverse as the Economist, the Messaggero, RAI tv, Agence France Presse etc.