Whoever seizes an archive attacks the freedom of research, the appeal signed by researchers and citizens against the investigation by the prosecutor of Rome and the police

The public prosecutor’s office in Rome accused our colleague, Paolo Persichetti, of “disclosure of confidential material acquired and / or prepared by the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro”. In an operation mobilizing a disproportionate and unjustified number of patrols (a patrol of General Intelligence and other agents belonging to the Central Directorate of the Preventive Police, and of the Postal Police), the search of Mr. Persichetti’s home (which lasted for 8 hours), resulted in the seizure of several mobile phones as well as all domestic computer equipment (including: computers, tablets, notebooks, smartphones, hard drive, pendrive, magnetic, optical and video media, cameras and video cameras and cloud storage areas). The police also examined several books and seized archival documents that were collected over decades of patient and painstaking research.

The charge pertains to a so-called disclosure of “confidential material”. The seized material comprises of documents collected over many years in various public archives  which were accessed with regular prior authorization. According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office there are two offenses at stake: 1. Subversive association for the purposes of terrorism (eg art. 270 bis of the penal code) and 2. Complicity (eg art. 378 penal code). The alleged offenses supposedly began on December 8, 2015.

More broadly and alarmingly, according to the prosecution, a subversive organization has been operating in Italy for the past 5 years; However, the name remain unknown, and so are its programs, texts public declarations, or any concrete actions (that we assume must be violent ones, as otherwise article 270 bis could not apply). It is legitimate, at this stage, to wonder whether the reference to article 270 bis is not an expedient to legitimize the use of invasive and intimidating investigative instruments (shadowing, interceptions, searches and seizures), coupled with restricted protection of the suspect.

What prompted such a deployment of police forces remains a mystery. A mistery that perhaps we are not even interested in solving. It is all too easy to strumentalise the biography of Paolo Persichetti, his engagement during the years of political violence in Italy, for which he has already “settled accounts with justice”. Mr. Persichetti is today a well-established researcher who has collaborated and collaborates with several newspapers and  magazines and has co-authored (with Marco Clementi and Elisa Santalena) the volume “Brigate Rosse: dalle fabbriche alla ‘Campagna di primavera’”, published in 2017 by the reputed publishing house DeriveApprodi.

It is not about personalizing a cause, or producing yet another martyr, but rather taking a step forward and pointing at the general significance of this event.

This event follows a series of attacks to the freedom of (historical) research, such as the recent bill aiming to introducing the offense of negationism on the issue of the Foibe, against which several researchers and associations have been speaking out for months. We must also remember the threats against the historian Eric Gobetti, author of a book on the Foibe,  as well as the researcher Roberta Chiroli,  who was first convicted and then fortunately acquitted for the crime of having written a thesis on the No-TAV movement.

The 1970s in Italy (like any other “unsettling” time for the official doxa) can and must be the object of genuine historical research: it is a crucial period of our national history which must be approached without prejudices, with the many tools provided by the humanities and social sciences, and using all the available sources (documentary, audiovisual, oral), both in archives and in society.

The time has come to put an end to a “tradition”, dominant in public and political discourse, which considers this period, now 50 years old, as a taboo, something that can be barely mentioned outside the clichés of the official Narrative around it.

For this reason, the seizure of archives is of serious concern. To date, a fellow researcher no longer has his archives, built up in years of patience and meticulous work, collected by studying the materials available in the following institutions:

·       l’Archivio centrale dello Stato;

·       l’Archivio storico del Senato;

·       la Biblioteca della Camera dei deputati;

·       la Biblioteca si storia moderna e contemporanea;

·       l’Emeroteca di Stato;

·       l’Archivio della Corte d’Appello di Roma

This material is coupled with a personal collection of documents found in open sources, institutional online portals, oral testimonies, life experiences, biographical journeys, as well as notes, drafts and material with which he drafted books and research projects, in collaboration with other researchers.

Go through this list again: these are the archives that many of us researchers visit regularly, and from which we patiently build our work. These are the archives where we have met on numerous occasions and on which many of the volumes in our shelves  are based upon, especially after many documents have been declassified in recent years, despite their many limitations.

What should we do now? What should we do in the future?

Keep our archives safe, hoping they won’t be confiscated?

Change specialty and return to the ranks, studying the “right” subjects, those that don’t bother anyone?

Ask our doctoral students to conduct their research with cautious self-censorship – just in case – as if they weren’t already penalized enough in their careers for the period they have chosen to investigate?

What is happening to our colleague Paolo Persichetti today concerns us all: it is a very serious act of intimidation which must alert us all. This is why we deem it necessary to articulate a firm, clear and strong civilian response to stop any attempts to silence research.

This is a just struggle, as we believe that history is a cornerstone of citizenship: this is the reason why it is taught, studied and must be told. Historical scholarship sheds light on who we are today by telling us where we come from.

Even when the story told is an unsettling one.

Our knowledge of the past make us active and autonomous individuals within society. The absence of historical memory, on the contrary, makes us fragile and prone to manipulations.

The archives of Paolo Persichetti must be released from seizure. Free the archives! History cannot be silenced!

Michael Lowy, Elisa Santalena, Angelo D’orsi, Marco Grispigni, Monica Galfré, Giovanni De Luna, Sergio Bianchi, Andrea Fumagalli, Isabelle Sommier, Andrea Fioretti, Marco Clementi, Barbara Biscotti, Antonello De Leo, Steve Wright, Ottone Ovidi, Giuseppe Aragno, PierVittorio Buffa, Francesca Chiarotto, Alessandro Barile, Christophe Mileschi, Elisabetta Sellaroli, Alessandro Stella, Luciano Villani, Ilenia Rossini, Mauro Ronco, Alberto Pantaloni, Guido Celli, Gabriella Piroli, Marie Thirion, Guillaume Guidon, Zapruder, Giacomo Tortorici, Gianremo Armeni, Antonio Lenzi, Sergio Bellavita, Michele Vollaro, Simonetta Stampatore, Laura Nanni, Marco Morra, Giovanna Gioli, Gigi Malabarba, Lorenzo Fazio, Vincenzo Sorella, Stefano Magni, Ugo Maria Tassinari, Associazione Bianca Guidetti Serra,, Chiara Lizzani, Michele D’Ambra, Valentina Lecca, Andrea Bellucci, Maria Grazia Meriggi, Andrea Lecca, Angela sollai, Simone Varriale, Cristina Saggioro, Manuele Gasperini, Davide Steccanella, Antonio Corso, Italo Di Sabato, Vincenzina Mercuri, Danilo Mariscalco, Edoardo Blotto, Paola Rivetti, Edoardo Todaro, Fabrizio Trullu, Barbara Meazzi, Ylenia Francesca Le Mura, Aldo Matzeu, Gennaro Gervasio, Stefano Lucarelli, Emanuela Nanni, Luca Iervolino, Ilona Wsz, Eleonora Forenza, Giorgio Del Vecchio, Stefania Mazzone, Emilio francesco Daniele, Cosimo De Benedictis, Michel Huysseune, Veronica Lacquaniti, Antonello Pizzaleo, Giuseppe Ponsetti, Nicola Erba Erba, Sandro Padula, Valentina Perniciaro, Ettore Bucci, Stefania Croci, Zaccarias Gigli, Andrea Colombo, Davide Ricco, Filippo Gianluca Callegaro, Cristina Cannizzo, Annarita Camerucci, Silvia De Bernardinis, Giacomo Pellegrini, Maria Pia Calemme, Erberto Rebora, Giuseppe Sergi, Walter Niolu, Angelo Tomassetti, Marina Salvatorelli, Marina Penasso, Monica Chiofi, Cristina Bagnato, Riccardo Quintili, Serenella Marini, Antonello Tiddia, Giancarla Rotondi, Salvatore Scuderi, Lidia Nucera, Gianluca Ricciato, Rosa Colella, Daniela Bracco, Elisa Giampieri, Luca Rafanelli, Daniela Valdiserra, Maria Cristina D’Angiolini, Lorenzo Misuraca, Laura Fresu, Melania Del Santo, Diego Ruggero, Alessandra de Luca, Angelica augusta Martini, Pino Casamassima, Francesca Valagussa, Marzocchi Silvana, Ivanka Gasbarrini, Gemma Busana, Susana Roitman, Miki De Benedictis, Giampiero Fabiani, Riccardo Tomassetti, Elena Storti, Cristina Cecchini, Mimmo Sambuco, Cristina Accornero, Nadia Bagni, Tito Faraci, Mattia Gallo, Giovanni Scognamiglio, Isa a, Gaetano Musto, Michela Mari, Gaia Martina Grimaldi, Maria Ricciardi, Stefano di Iorio, Anna Lucia Tomelleri, Tanja Golisano, Francesco Schiro, Chiara Quargnolo, Isa Salis, Sabrina Pusceddu, Linda Bargellini, Francesco costa, Santa D’alio, Lorenzo Alberti, Massimo, Cicchinelli, Claudio Moratto, Claudio Serafini, Laurence Bourguignon, Andrea Mencarelli, Cesare Cavallari, Maria Orsola Chiattella, Franco Barbero, Emilio Bagnoli, Annalisa Corno, Elio Limberti, Romilda De Santis, Diego Pellizzari, Silvia Di Fonzo, Angelo Guerriero, Claudio Vecchiola, Roberto Evangelista, Giulio Petrilli, Roberta Ciribilli, Alberto di Vincenzo, Valentina Magnanti, Angela Di leo, Diana di Lollo, Anna Maria Molinari, Remo Pancelli, Irène Bonnaud, Caterina Marassi, Luigina Dorigo, Stefano Chiesa, Donatella Tirelli, Elena Orsini, Giuseppe Tiano, Paolo Favarin, Riccardo De Angelis, Annalisa Capriotti, Susanna Bernoldi, Claudia Pinelli, Valerio Minnella, Elvira Maria Guenzi, Dario Alserio, Luca Nigro, Mariarosaria La Porta, Sandra Dolente, Giulio De Leo, Umberto Spallotta, Monica Maglia, Nicol Klatt, Dario Furnari, Amelia Zarrella, Maria Enrica Pennello, Andrea Fogli, Giovanni Russo, Christian Di Stefano, Andrea De Vito, Usb Pisa, Marinella Fiume, Stefano du Bois, Antonio Vicente, Carrillo Paños, Sandra Berardi, Maurella Carbone, Diego Robotti, Cristina Campanile, Pierpaolo Ascari, Giovanni Di Leo, Diana Cavaliere, Manuela Anna Margherita Anselmo, Lorenzo Villani, Alfredo Toppi, Giovanni Monti, Alfredo Toppi, Graziano Bergonzini, Massimo Luciani, Marco Mais, Biagio Barbaro Benedetta Rossini, Gaia Dall’Ara, Laura Celano, Riccardo Pagliarini, Vittorio Oratino, Giorgio Trinchero, Michele Armando Carbone, Paolo Ciaravino, Francesco Marchi, Cecilia Gnocchi, Martina Di Pasquale, Manuela Di Giacomo, Maria luisa Renzi, Chiara Cogoni, Francesco Di Dato, Maria Raffaella Naitza, Nico Vox, Valerio Guizzardi, Alessio Caperna, Braulio Rojas, Marco Mucciarelli, Diego D’Amario, Rossana Tidei, Danilo Sidari, Valeria Sanzone, Rosella Roselli, Federica Bordoni, Titti Mazzacane, Monica Quaresima, Stefania Guastella, Antonella Coloru, Maurizia Nichelatti, Gabriele Donato, Maria Zampini, Silvia Longo, Roberto Chiarelli, Marina Grulovic, Germana Pennica, Claudia Zudini, Franck Gaudichaud, Leonardo Casalino, Olivier Kraif, Giovanni Croce, Marco Noris, Giuseppe Leo, Anna Maria Romeo, , Rossana Meloni, Antonio Andreotti, Domenico Tangolo, Nereo Santella, Irene Galuppo, Antonia Cascio, Gabriele Giraudo, Matteo Molinaro, IIaria Bracaglia, Marianna Melis, Filippo Bozzano, Ernesto Nieri, Valentine Pillet, Pier Lisi, Maurizio Milanese, Francesco Giordano, Sergio Falcone, Danilo Maramotti, Francesco Lembo, Isabella Cellerino, Tiberio Crivellaro, Francesco Russo, Noémie de Grenier, Paolo Morpurgo, Elisa Romani, Giovanna Russo, Valeria Forte, Jacopo Ricciardi, Maria Belladonna, Anna Cabras, Barbara Bernardini, Martina Battaglia, Rosario Maria Romeo, Raffaele Di Francia, Catherine Carpentier, Maddalena Tiburzio, Lorenzo Brigida, Luigia De Biasi, Valentina Donati, Brunella Bartolini, Nastasia Tennant, Maria Teresa Catania, Claudio Venza, Nicolas Kìuzik, Silvia Boverini, Costanza Curro’, Christiane Vollaire, Mirco Di Sandro, Stefano Santaniello, Gianfranco Santacaterina, Franco Ventriglia, Enzo Bistoni, Valentina Mitidieri, Tania Maria Preste, Caterina Soprana, Giancarlo Scotoni, David Gigli, Mariangela Sacchi, William Gambetta, Nadia Menengee, Vincenzo Gargano, Maurizio Conte, Beppe Battaglia, Emilio Prosperi, Paola Caruso, Natalina Farris, Giulio Zanchi, Vania Borsetti, Samantha Pescari, Maya Alexandra Seppecher, Olivier Le Trocquer, Giovanni Consorti, Roberto Scorza, Agnese Forte, Carmela Maddalena, Michela Forte, Gianfranco Criscenti, Tiziana Leoni, Alessandra Cecchi, Graziella Mascheroni, Fiorenzo Fedeli, Primo Dorigo, Agata Castello, Lorenzo Mizzi, Uberto Crivelli, Pasquale Piscitelli, Francesca de Rossi, Leonardo Pacetti, Roberto Budini Gattai, Roberta Gaeta, Sandra Lombardi, Cristina Volpe, Salvatore Francesco (detto Totò) Caggese, Emilia Andreou, Patrizia Togna, Christian Drouet, Isabelle Parion Rosa Cristina Lamberti Fresa, Irène Villa, Elena Della Pietra, Nicola Pannelli, Fausto Carotti, Riccardo Silva, Claudia Lai, Emma Contini, Fabrizio Portaluri, Sara Cassai, Giovanna Cilento, Caterina Arfè, Barbara Ragone, Filippo Kalomedis, Leo Donnarumma, Brianna Cordell, Marco Bartoli, Roberta D’andrea, Franco Ferrara, Luigina Creta, Alessandro Pallassini, Marco Pellegrino, Antonio Grilli, Xavier Lambert, Raffaele Cirone, Antonella Beccaria, Labey Marion, M.Elena Tomassini, Paola Di Paolo, Pierre Stambul, Barbara Croce, Vincenzo Pallara, Giacomo Mattiello, Giulia Leone, Mariela Ortiz, Igina Ierardi, Riccardo Rossi, Fernanda Filippi, Sandro Turdo, Stefano Gallo, Claudia Santoro, Daniela Bandini, Silvia Capata, Rosa Maria De Cambourg, Katja Besseghini, Luigi Lorusso, Donatella Quattrone, Francesco Cirillo, Alessia Peca, Luciana Capata, Mirta Mattina, Paola Lanteri, Gian Luca Pittavino, Francesca Tuscano, Alessandro D’Ansembourg, Elisabetta Faffuzzi, Mario Salvatore Gravina, Annalena Di Giovanni, Francesco Comisi, Maria Grazia Prudenzano, Sabina Paladini, Franco Barracchia, Carla Dovini, Viviana Duca, Martina La Stella, Sabatina Ragucci, Valentina Spera, Cinzia Cavini, Mauro Nicolicchia, Annalisa Pannarale, Fabiola Schneider Graziosi, Vittorio Morfino, Ivan Bianchini, Stefano Pasetto, Tania La Tella, Roberto D’Angiò, Giuseppe Pugliese, Daniela Micheli, Claudia De Angelis, Simona Musolino, Stefania Zuccari, Francesca Usala, Rossana Canfarini, Manueka Tedeschi, Francesca Lombardozzi, Daniela Usala, Anella Cerolla, Gabriella Frangiotta, Marianna Rosa, Anna Maria Costa, Luigia Mangili, Claude Pourcher, Maria Mazzarella, Chiara Di Croce, Carla Pastori, Simonetta Facioni, Mariateresa Salvi, Lara Garlaschelli, Lina Sortino, Ivan Romanò, Alberto Prunetti, Gianluca Andreozzi, Carmela Petrone, Giovanna Perretti, Chiara Cerruti, Mariamargherita Scotti, Argia Simone, Marina Bosco, Stefano Fiorin, Loretta Bertolotti, Raoul Villano, Claudio Tribuzi, Michela Mioni, Silvana Miradoli, Valeria Mercandino, Alejandro Roberto Pannocchia, Simone Cristini, Patrick Carre, Mathilde Epifanie, Kevin Kouakou, Coeli Gianluca, Agata Creanza, Marc Damestoy, Sonia Doronzo, Elisabetta Martinazzoli, Fabienne Mergaux, Jean François Wolff, Claudio Edgardo Palombella, Valeria Fiore, Alessia Stelitano, Mario Bucci, Marie Contaux, Antonino Ansaldo Patti, Cavarra Simona, Mario Orabona,Arthur Barbaras, Elena Gaetti, Jean Courtiou, Tea Cernigoi, Ambra Floris, Catherine Bolly, Rosalba Ciranni, Luisa Gaetti, Gerardina Vavala’, Antonio Scalia, Balzer Shimano, Pino Pannuti, Lorenzo Dossi, Armelle Girinon, Clara Mogno, Marco Codebo, Giorgio Casiello, Ornella Beltramme, Daniele Lauri, Flavia Fasano, Danielle Mainfray, Luciana Storri, Rocco Lerose, Patrizia Pisanu, Marco Sozzi Sozzi, Paola di Michele, Luigi Flagellin, Rachele Colella, Maurizio Vito, Teresa Mecca, Giuseppe Giannini, Giulia Pezzella, Umberto Spallotta, Alina Rosini, Rita Fiori, Luigi Casinelli, Clemente Manzo, Eugenia Magnaghi, Maria Mucci, Marco Bersani, Elena Guaraglia, Francesco Paolo Caputo, Antonio Di Giuda, Davide Rompietti, Italo Poma, Diego Graziola, Francesca Figari, Alessandro Lentini, Marco della Rocca, Adeline Picaud, Oriana Cartaregia, Christian Tarting, Olivier Rodier, Florence Rigollet, Jean-Marc Bernard, Modesta Suárez, Danièle Restoin, Serge Martin, Patrice Petit, Henri Raynaud, 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