Friday, April 29, 2011

Committee To Protect Journalists Responds, But Provides No List Of Sources Or Interview Transcripts

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for the response by Nina Ognianova. Comments are open below that CPJ post and both Kermit and Doug Preston have taken advantage, Kermit gracefully, Preston petulantly..

Nina Ognianova does not address Kermit’s contentions, though she did link to TJMK, and really responds only in broad generalties. She still leaves standing the smears of Giuliano Mignini and other Italian officials that the Committee to Protect Journalists chose to broadcast globally. 

We can find zero evidence that CPJ interviewed anyone in Perugia, except presumably for the strenuously anonymous blogger “Frank Sfarzo”  (real name Sforza) who the CPJ may actually realize now is not a real journalist and who posts mostly mischievous nonsense under an assumed name. 

Nina Ognianova does not explain why neither Mr Mignini not anyone in the police or judiciary were interviewed before the CPJ smeared Mr Mignini in an open letter sent to Italy’s President and a number of other notables worldwide.

There’s been good commenting starting about here about this already on PMF where some are warming to the idea of a public hearing in Perugia (“Frank Sfarzo” goes on trial early in May)

Maybe “Frank Sfarzo” and Doug Preston can be made to finally put up or shut up. This may not be the result the hornswoggled Joel Simon was intended to deliver..

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It has been 4 years since Meredith Kercher was brutally murdered.

Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede were justly tried in an Italian court of law and convicted for Meredith’s murder.

Still the Friends of Amanda Campaigners are oblivious to the facts of this case that continue to come out of Italy.

Last month, the DNA review experts, Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti concluded that “no new analysis” will be conducted on the only 2 pieces of evidence that were even allowed to be reviewed - the knife and the bra clasp. This appears to heavily favor the prosecution as they want the original DNA testing on this evidence to stand for the appeal trial.

The trial for the Sollecitos is about to commence and in 2 months time so too will Curt Knox’s and Edda Mellas’ slander trial.

And yes, Amanda Knox is being treated very humanely in Italy’s Capanne Prison as she, along with the rest of the prison population were afforded live music entertainment by the band Hot during last Easter weekend.

After 4 years isn’t it time the Friends of Amanda Campaigners pull their heads out of the sand?

Posted by True North on 04/29/11 at 06:40 AM | #

From a neutral point of view, the above response by the CPJ can only damage if not destroy any credibility they may have.

It appears that they only champion ‘certain’ people in this case and these ‘certain’ people just happen to be Knox advocates and financial backers of their organisation.

It is clear they have not verified anything they have had dictated to them in their so called interviews.

Perhaps they could at least check out the treatment journalists Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau have received in the course of their reporting on the Knox case?

I would be interested in the CPJ’s findings and opinion when they discover that the years of insults, abuse and incessant sliming Vogt and Nadeau have endured comes from none other than the people they are championing here in this case.

CPJ, please advise.

Posted by Black Dog on 04/29/11 at 11:31 AM | #

I find it interesting how Frank Sfarzo is referred to as “local freelance reporter” in the CPJ’s open letter. Is there something I don’t know about? I remember Frank Sfarzo being mentioned in articles and I also believe he conducted an interview with Amanda Knox, but I don’t recall to have read any articles written by him others than those he published on his blog.

Working freelance means to get paid for what you do so you can make a living. Who published his articles? Was there ever an article printed by any paper written by Frank Sfarzo? Not that I know of. I remember him rambling on his blog once, because he offered his articles to an Italian newspaper or magazine, but they refused to publish it.

A professional journalist or reporter can, of course, maintain a blog and earn a living with their writings, but that doesn’t mean that every internet user who opens an account at to offer their point of view can refer to himself legitimately as reporter or journalist. Where are Frank Sfarzo’s credentials?

Posted by Nell on 04/29/11 at 01:06 PM | #

Hi Nell. Typically Frank attracts less than a quarter of the readers of either PMF or TJMK so even as a blogger he doesn’t really shine. He is addressing a very small and partisan crowd.

We posted this in May 2009 on Franks fleeing audience and ever since he seems to have been desperate to come up with sensation and pump his reader numbers back up.

The readership success of PMF and TJMK seems to be driving all the conspiracy theorists nuts. Not the least of them the faux investigator Doug Preston, who lashes out in personal terms in the CPJ comments at Kermit and Harry Rag, although they were both pretty polite to him. .

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/29/11 at 03:16 PM | #


I think Skeptical Bystander summed up the CPJ response most accurately: we stand by our mistakes, shoulder shrug. Skep put nice humor in the summary which cut through all the CPJ verbiage to the truth which is: we spoke to Preston, Frank, and Mario Spezi and that’s all we plan to do. We’re meticulous fact seekers, dontcha know, Signed CPJ.

Kermit made mincemeat out of them and they know it.

Posted by Hopeful on 04/29/11 at 04:45 PM | #

Since this post deals with valid journalists …

… and our old friend Rocco “Wreath” Girlanda ?  If you give a look here, you’ll see how he is seriously working in the Italian Parliament:

Posted by ncountryside on 04/29/11 at 06:42 PM | #

By saying “we stand by our letter” while linking to Kermit’s article and refusing to address ANY of the points he raises beyond some “journalists deserve protection” rhetoric, CPJ have capitulated. Well done, Kermit!

Posted by Janus on 04/29/11 at 09:59 PM | #

I wonder whether Joel Simon realised, when publishing the letter, that the CPJ blog board would become a battleground for bloggers from opposing websites. For Preston, of course, this is grist to the mill and may have been intended, but if the CPJ is a serious organisation I should think that this will be embarrassing - particularly given the quality of the comment input from not only pro Amanda supporters but from Preston himself.

The best comment actually came from Maunday Gregory and in so far as reputable, intelligent journalists actually pay any attention to CPJ, his comment will have been the most telling for them and the most awkward for CPJ.

Posted by James Raper on 04/29/11 at 10:13 PM | #

Hi James. Yes Maundy had an early “moderate” comment that would be the one the press would latch onto. The FOA hordes are as usual passing shrill there. Way too hot. Casual and professional readers just move on.

For myself I doubt Preston is any too thrilled that CPJ came out with a Part Two linking to TJMK. Between that and Kermit, his home run really is being denied. And it will probably get worse for him as the two open letters are spread further and Frank goes to court. A bridge too far. He lives but never learns.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/29/11 at 11:31 PM | #

CPJ were very reasonable to link to this site. In future, people won’t read that letter without reading Kermit’s dissenting view. We all know which one is more persuasive to the average impartial reader.

Posted by Janus on 04/30/11 at 12:22 AM | #

@ Peter

For me it is not about the readership he might attract and how many. I believe Frank Sfarzo deceits others into believing that he is a professional reporter. To my knowledge, he doesn’t have any formation or experience whatsoever in the field of journalism, neither has he ever published anything for any paper, but he wants to enjoy the same protection that is extended to others who are working in the field. Highly questionable in my point of view. The CPJ should have known better.

Posted by Nell on 04/30/11 at 07:52 AM | #

It looks like the CPJ website has crashed. Too many visitors, too much attention, and not of the sort they seek, I daresay.

Posted by Janus on 04/30/11 at 07:17 PM | #

Hi Janus. Yeah color us intrigued. We have been tracking that for a while. One of us spotted a post up briefly before the “crash” that said something about Knox and about 10 ways in which bloggers harass genuine journalists.

That post may have created internal controversy. The only genuine journalist we know of who have been harrassed are Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau and they were both harrassed by the FOA and the commenters on Frank’s Perugia Shock.

Alternatively CPJ’s lawyers might have told them to hide the site in a hurry until the lawyers go over it. That open letter by Joel Simon looked libellous under Italian and UK law and they may have heard from lawyers in Italy.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/30/11 at 07:24 PM | #

I suspect that the reson why the FOA won’t get their heads out of the sand is purely financial. When faced with facts all they can come up with is name calling and insults NO FACT. As for name calling Amanda is a convicted notorius MURDERER.

Posted by friar fudd on 04/30/11 at 08:45 PM | #

This is an interesting development, Peter. In my opinion it is a bit too late to ask their lawyers for advice now, after sending and publishing their open letter. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the article you mention, but hopefully they will still publish it when the website is up and running again.

I noticed that Wikipedia was keen to introduce the Frank Sfarzo’s case in the description of their CPJ page. The article makes it sound as if the wiretapping of AK’s and RS’s phones were illegal. Highly biased article.

On 19 April 2011, the CPJ wrote an open letter to the Italian President protesting about the treatment of journalists and writers in Perugia at the hands of police and under the direction of Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who had already been convicted of abuse of office in connection with illegal phonetapping of journalists and who had led the team prosecuting American Amanda Knox and Italian Raffalele Sollecito for the murder of English student Meredith Kercher in 2007. In particular the police treatment of local blogger Frank Sfarzo was singled out, as well as threats by Mignini against Giangavino Sulas of Oggi magazine, US writer Joe Cottonwood and the West Seattle Herald. [10]


Posted by Nell on 05/01/11 at 04:19 AM | #

@ Peter

CPJ is online again, but I cannot find the article you wrote about earlier.

Posted by Nell on 05/02/11 at 12:00 AM | #


The article you couldn’t find is now back on the CPJ website together with all the blogs on it. CPJ has also switched it’s attention away from Sfarzo with an article concentrating on Spezi.

Posted by James Raper on 05/02/11 at 01:54 PM | #

Thank you, James. The article about Spezi is from 2006 though. I don’t think they mean to deflect the attention from Sfarzo to Spezi, but to reinforce their point that there is some sort of abuse towards unwanted journalists and writers in Italy.

After all, the Committee to Protect Journalists seem to be very superficial and taken things lightly. It defeats the purpose in my opinion. I don’t take them seriously, neither do I believe the pressure that is put on the Italian government will make a difference for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito or Frank Sfarzo in that case.

The CPJ are just one more disappointing player in the game with an agenda.

Posted by Nell on 05/02/11 at 03:21 PM | #


Yes, and thanks for pointing out that the article in question is dated 2006.

Posted by James Raper on 05/02/11 at 03:32 PM | #

This new CPJ smear of Italian justice and in particular Mignini is from a new CPJ post, and Kermit will be including his take on it soon, in a further in-depth exposure of CPJ and those who have hijacked it to their own nasty ends.


“CPJ urges Italy unimpeded access for reporters covering Knox case

Critical reporting on the case of a British exchange student who was murdered in Italy has set off an alarming wave of threats, harassment, and intimidation by local authorities, who have obstructed news coverage in Italy and the United States.  American student Amanda Knox, is a defendant in the case.

In a letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, CPJ outlined attempts to muzzle reporting and opinion around the official investigation into the 2007 case. The letter is issued ahead of the May trial of local freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo, for alleged police contempt and aggression. Sfarzo faced intimidation for two years after his public criticism of the Meredith Kercher murder investigation.  CPJ’s letter urged Napolitano to “ensure that reporters and writers are not afraid to cover, comment on, and criticize the activities of Perugia authorities.”

CPJ is especially concerned about the history of anti-press actions by public prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who heads the Kercher investigation and has filed or threatened to file criminal lawsuits against journalists or media organizations on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/03/11 at 02:44 PM | #


It is a hijacking. CPJ have sold their soul to the devil and no longer have any credibility.

Posted by James Raper on 05/03/11 at 03:18 PM | #
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