An Italian weekly magazine has branded an alleged surveillance campaign by the Holy See as a ‚ÄúVatican Big Brother‚ÄĚ operation that included more than a year of widespread wiretapping and the monitoring of personal movements by officials within the Vatican.
Panorama¬†said in a front-page story last week that the Vatican‚Äôs Gendarmeria, headed by former Italian secret service agent Domenico Giani, tapped phones and read the emails of Church officials as part of an investigation into the so-called Vatileaks scandal ‚Äď an investigation made at the behest of Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The Vatican‚Äôs chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, has dismissed claims of long-term and extensive surveillance, saying that only a few phones were tapped at the request of the Vatican judiciary, and not of Cardinal Bertone.
But¬†Panorama¬†responded that according to its sources in the Vatican, the surveillance began in August 2011 ‚Äď several months prior to news of the Vatileaks scandal in January last year and the arrest of Pope Benedict‚Äôs former butler Paolo Gabriele in May 2012.
‚ÄúEveryone was spied on in the Vatican,‚ÄĚ said¬†Panorama‚Äôs Vatican expert Ignazio Ingrao, who added that surveillance is ongoing as investigators continue to search for evidence of wrongdoing in the leaking of official documents.
Panorama¬†has further claimed that the Vatican police work closely with the secretariat and that its sources say Vatican police have amassed ‚Äúan enormous quantity of data‚ÄĚ about personal phone calls, movements and contacts within the Vatican in its archives.
Such a trove of data could cast a long shadow on the upcoming papal conclave later this month. [More]