Journalist sentenced to prison for defamation

Pasquale Napolitano

  ROME -- Pasquale Napolitano, a reporter for the newspaper Il Giornale has been sentenced to an 8-month prison sentence for defamation according to judicial sources. 

  The journalist found himself on trial for defamation, following an article written about the Nola Bar Association, published on the Anteprima24 website in April 2020. The judge, who is also a lawyer from the Nola Court, sentenced Napolitano to prison and a fine of 6,500 euros, though the sentence has been suspended due to extenuating circumstances, freeing Napolitano from facing time. The imprisonment for journalists in Italy is currently included in Article 595 of the penal code, however, the current affair has opened debate from both the left and the right parties. One month ago, Brothers of Italy attempted to increase the maximum sentence for journalists accused of defamation to four and a half years in prison, this was then withdrawn due to backlash. 

  “This is the straw that broke the camel’s back” explained Carlo Bartoli, President of the National Association of Journalists, “It is necessary to understand the instrumental use of judiciary action against journalists (criminal and civil) damages the entire press, regardless of its political leanings. Beware, however, that one cannot abolish prison sentences and toughen fines by hitting the weakest reporters in particular. We need a reform that protects the freedom of information, which is not a prerogative of journalists, but a right for all citizens and a cornerstone of democracy.”

  Tommaso Foti, the Chamber of Deputies group leader for the Brothers of Italy, responded to Napolitano’s sentence, “We are witnessing a left that is always rampant in denouncing a non-existent centre-right gag on the press, but stay silent when it is a journalist who does not belong to their own political-cultural area who is condemned.” 

  Napolitano did however receive solidarity from the left. Leader of the 5 Star Movement, Giuseppe Conte, highlighted the centre-right obstructing a law abolishing prison for journalists. “Pasquale Napolitano is a journalist from Il Giornale who I got to know for his never-gentle background with the 5 Star Movement, and also for his journalism work between the country and online news sites. I am very concerned to learn today that he was even sentenced to prison for the affair related to an article he wrote on an online site. I express my solidarity with him.”