Tech & Rights

Italian Writer on Trial after Calling for Sabotage of High-Speed Train Line

Erri De Luca, a prominent Italian writer, is on trial for incitement after suggesting in an interview that the high-speed train line being constructed between Turin and Lyon should be sabotaged.

by Associazione Antigone

Italian writer Erri De Luca is on trial for incitement after a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post in which he called for the high-speed train line being built between Turin and Lyon to be sabotaged. The French company behind the project, Lyon Turin Ferroviaire, sued the author and Italian prosecutors pressed charges, determining that he "publicly instigated the commission of crimes and violations."

The project has faced considerable opposition from residents living near the intended line, who worry about the cost and environmental impact of the rail link. There is uranium and asbestos present in the nearby mountains, which could be released when workers bore a tunnel through it. Concerned citizens began an opposition movement to the project, and protesters have had several confrontations with police in recent years.

Mr. De Luca's trial began on January 28 in Turin, but has now been postponed until March. In defense of his right to freedom of expression, he wrote "A Dissenting Word," in which he reiterates his constitutional right to express his opinions and argues against such a narrow definition of "sabotage," which, he says, has an "enormous range of figurative uses."

Italian human rights organization Antigone publicly presented the book in Rome on February 9 and interviewed its author, who is widely read in Italy and whose work has been translated into several languages.

"This [case] is really dangerous for a democracy," said Mr. De Luca. "The most important thing is that people are with me."

Many are. The web is full of demonstrations of support for him, with the hashtag #iostoconerri (I am with Erri) trending on Twitter and many of his fans are organizing meetings in the streets to read aloud passages of "A Dissenting Word."

The members of Antigone who presented the book also expressed the association's unconditional solidarity with Erri De Luca. "Antigone was born on the idea that the penal system should be used for punishing actions, not people or opinions," the organization said.

For his part, Mr. De Luca is looking forward to the court's decision and an end to this affair. "I won't file an appeal if I am convicted. I want to stop with all of this as soon as possible."

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