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Privacy watchdog following De Girolamo case 'closely'

New transcripts presented to court of re-examination

14 January, 17:01
Privacy watchdog following De Girolamo case 'closely' (ANSA) - Rome, January 14 - The Italian data protection authority said Tuesday it was "closely following developments" in the case of Agriculture Minister Nunzia De Girolamo as new transcripts of recordings of her conversations regarding appointments in the southern province of Benevento emerged.

The recordings were made in secret by the former administrative director of the Benevento health authorities (Asl), Felice Pisapia, during two meetings with De Girolamo at her father's home in 2012, when she was provincial coordinator for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party. The new transcripts were presented to judges at a court of re-examination by lawyers representing Pisapia as part of documentation supporting a request for his mandatory residence in Salerno to be overturned. The former manager is under investigation in relation to alleged mismanagement at Asl.

De Girolamo is not implicated in the probe.

The privacy watchdog also said it was up to magistrates to assess the potential criminal implications of the transcripts' publication and told parliament to provide "greater protection" of the right to privacy.

The first transcripts were published last week and since then De Girolamo, 38, has been accused of improper interference amid calls for her to resign. While stressing that her job was in Premier Enrico "Letta's hands", De Girolamo defended her position and said she had been the victim of "an unprecedented media lynching".

"I'm more than willing to clarify the aspects of this disturbing affair in parliament," said the centre-right lawmaker.

"I'm sure I didn't do anything improper".

De Girolamo won support from Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano, the leader of her New Centre Right (NCD) party, who said the wiretaps had been published illegally.

But Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the biggest group in parliament, has urged her to give a full explanation.

"The debate stemming from the case concerning Nunzia De Girolamo touches on points brought to the attention of the government and parliament by the authority on numerous occasions," continued the privacy watchdog. These include "the need to reconcile at the highest point the right to report and personal dignity, in such a way as to avoid the 'transcription journalism' that often ends up seriously violating people's private lives, often irreparably".