The WikiLeaks’ affair still hits the front page of international daily majors. The New York publisher Alfred A. Knopf recently confirmed that his publishing house had reached a deal with the 39-year-old WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, who is expected to deliver a manuscript in 2011.
By Irene Fazio
The Wikileaks’ affair came to Italy during the recent governmental crisis, which was caused by the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the Italian lower House. Cables about Italy were revealed in a really tense and worried atmosphere.
The Italian media covered the US embassy cables’ leaks extensively. One of the most exhaustive reports was published by the digital satellite television platform owned by News Corporation, Sky News Italia, which prepared a huge dossier including video and daily stories about the work of Wikileaks, the character of its founder Julian Assange and various reactions in Italy.
Cables about Italy generally focused on descriptions of Premier Silvio Berlusconi‘s abilities, his luxurious way of life as well as his close ties to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Corruption in the case of the South Stream gas pipeline, a Gazprom-Eni joint venture that will bring gas from Russia to Europe, was also reported upon.
Other important leaks reported on the 2008 Georgian conflict and Berlusconi’s involvement, the economic and financial crisis, the web law called “Legge Romani” and the media conflict of interest. Some also concerned the investigations regarding the tragic death of Nicola Calipari, an Italian SISMI military intelligence officer with the rank of Major General, in Iraq.
The Italian Foreign Affair Minister Franco Frattini was reported to have declared: “Wikileaks is the 11/9 of the diplomacy”. On the other hand, Italian institutions minimized the WikiLeaks’ affair. Premier Berlusconi laughed off criticism concerning his playboy lifestyle and described Julian Assange’s information as not well founded.
In Italy, as well as in Spain and other countries, after the excitement about the contents of the cables had dampened, the discussion started to focus on the safeguard of privacy and transparent information. Firstly, some bloggers from the little-known online Italian paper Il Giornalettismo pointed out that the daily majors Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel and The Guardian had directly received the WikiLeaks cables, while the Italian media had not been taken into consideration for the dissemination of secret documents.
The reasons for putting aside the Italian media were reported to have probably come from the limited number of cables about Italy, or from the type of revelations, which seemed to be no hot news for the country but general judgments about facts that were already well know. Assertments were made that the role of Italian media was marginal compared to other countries.
However WikiLeaks seems to appear as a break-through for some journalists. Stefano Rodotà, Professor of Law at the University La Sapienza in Rom and former President of the Italian and EU group on Data Protection Commission, wrote in the editorial of the daily progressive leftist major La Repubblica, that “nothing will be as before”. Rodotà’s thesis underlined that the new “digital power”, rights and responsibilities had to be linked with a free information: “A new world is there, and cannot be removed. It seems that there are already one hundred thousand people who are flowing to new WikiLeaks’ documents. And that means that the model is likely to increase, to become a stable element of the social landscape”.
Julian Assange got the cover of the newest Italian magazine The daily week, which reported the point of view of the Italian generation born before 1970. The magazine launched an opinion poll to get “the best Italian under 40”, which resulted with Italy’s anti-mafia writer Roberto Saviano as winner. Assange received the title ad honorem. The editorial director of the magazine, Mario Adinolfi, wrote: “Today Assange is the symbol of the new world generation”.