The Vatican is trying to question 2 journalists for being journalists

Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi meets the journalists at the foreign press club, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. The Vatican has placed two Italian journalists under investigation in its probe over leaked documents that revealed waste, greed and mismanagement at the highest levels of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi wrote bombshell books detailing the uphill battle Pope Francis is facing in reforming the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi meets the journalists at the foreign press club, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. The Vatican has placed two Italian journalists under investigation in its probe over leaked documents that revealed waste, greed and mismanagement at the highest levels of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi wrote bombshell books detailing the uphill battle Pope Francis is facing in reforming the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Reporters Without Borders | The New York Times | Associated Press

Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi are being investigated by the Vatican for work that uncovered mismanagement, Reporters Without Borders reported Wednesday. The press freedom organization expressed support for Nuzzi, "who has cited his free speech rights as grounds for refusing to be interrogated by the Vatican judicial system as part of an investigation into the leaking of confidential documents."

“By writing ‘Avarizia’ and ‘Via Crucis,’ Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi just exercised their right to provide information in the public interest and should not be treated as criminals in a country that supposedly respects media freedom,” said Alexandra Geneste, the head of the Reporters Without Borders EU-Balkans bureau in Brussels.

The two journalists are being investigated under a Vatican law adopted in July 2013, after the first “VatiLeaks.” It says: “Whoever illicitly obtains or reveals information or documents whose publication is forbidden is punishable by a sentence of six months to two years in prison or a fine of 1,000 to 5,000 euros.”

Unlike Nuzzi, Fittipaldi submitted to questioning but refused to talk, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, "citing the protections journalists enjoy in Italy to shield their sources — protections which don’t exist in the Vatican legal code."

The New York Times' Elisabetta Povoledo wrote about the Vatican's investigation last week.

Both journalists relied extensively on leaked documents for two books, released this month, that detail alleged incompetence and greed within the Curia, as the Vatican’s administrative hierarchy is known, as well as widespread resistance toward Pope Francis’ attempts to change it.

Last week, two members of a commission appointed by Francis to review the Vatican’s vast financial holdings were arrested on suspicion of leaking confidential documents to the journalists. One of them, Francesca Chaouqui, a laywoman and public relations specialist, was released after she cooperated with the Vatican’s judicial authorities. The other, Msgr. Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda, a high-ranking church official, remains in detention.

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