You’ve probably already seen it over at Sarah’s, but I’ll spread the news a little more over here. The Italian journalist Mario Spezi, writing partner of American novelist Douglas Preston on a book about the infamous “Monster of Florence”, has been picked up by Florentine police on charges of “slander and defamation”.

For some background on the case, see Sarah’s previous post from when the trouble started brewing. It seems largely a case of politicians desperate not to be embarrassed by a meddlesome journalist, whose research has turned up a series of grotesque mishandlings by the Italian police concerning the capture of the Monster. Here’s the AP coverage of the arrest, with a little more background.

Douglas Preston has released a statement, which is worth a read:

The accusations against Spezi, according to press accounts, are slander and defamation, disturbing the public order, and obstructing a criminal investigation. He was, essentially, arrested for doing his job as a journalist. One news report says that he is also being charged with an unsolved murder that occurred thirty-one years ago — an utterly absurd charge.

He adds:

It is no coincidence that this arrest comes just twelve days before the release of our book.


Follow the link, look into it, and if you feel as I do, go ahead and write to the people Preston suggests should be contacted at the Ministro della Giustizia and the Ministro dell’Interno. Says Preston:

Italians care a great deal what Americans think. I have seen early press reports in Italy and much of it is filled with dismay at this treatment of one of Italy’s most respected journalists. This is not “business as usual” in Italy and it can be reversed, if we make a big enough noise.

I’m not much of a joiner, whether we’re talking about clubs, political parties, or petitions. But as time passes and I learn more about the kinds of shit my fellow writers have to deal with in various countries, it makes me reconsider my overall ambivalence. This is one such case.