Friday, June 28, 2013

Amanda Knox journalist Andrea Vogt threatens legal action to silence her critics

Andrea Vogt
Journalist Andrea Vogt is not a fan of my work. In fact she has repeatedly tried to have my articles removed from the internet. Vogt’s determination to silence a citizen journalist leaves me to wonder what she’s afraid of. Vogt makes little attempt to disprove the claims in my articles; instead it appears she would just like me to go away.

Vogt is an American journalist living in Italy that reports on the Meredith Kercher murder case on her blog and other news outlets. I believe Vogt’s articles work to provide the public with the prosecution’s view of the case, while vilifying the defendants. Vogt’s articles are not only biased, they are often filled with misinformation. I have written several articles highlighting Vogt’s work that have been published on various citizen journalist websites. I have also discussed her reporting in my book “Finding Justice in Perugia.”

Vogt knows that citizen journalist sites do not generally have a horse in the race so the quickest solution for these sites is to simply remove articles that receive complaints. So Vogt sends emails to these sites threatening legal action if the content is not removed. Vogt has also claimed in these emails to have a legal team building a defamation case against me. It’s reasonable to conclude that Vogt’s attorneys would be in contact with the websites involved If Vogt actually had a legal team working on a defamation case. Vogt’s direct contact suggests that she is making baseless threats. 

Vogt’s complaints have been based mostly on my personal opinions of her. Surprisingly she has said nothing to deny her association with anti-Amanda Knox websites. Her strongest objections have centered in on my claim that she is working closely with Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. I find it odd that Vogt seems to want to distance herself from Mignini, while at the same time, writing complimentary articles about him. If she admires Mignini and the work he does, why not just come out and say so? It’s obvious to me that she’s working closely with Mignini because her recent blog posts include details that could only have come directly from Mignini himself. Vogt was the only journalist to have a copy of the Oggi lawsuit (discussed in the article below) before it was available anywhere else, leaving Mignini as the only realistic source. 

Vogt has absolutely no case against me because my articles are based on facts. After receiving the complaint from Vogt, Ground Report (one of the sites Vogt contacted) removed my article briefly so that it could be reviewed. After legal review, it was found to be non-libelous and factually sound. I was advised to edit the article to remove personal opinions such as calling Vogt a “yellow journalist” if I did not prefer to add “in my opinon” or “I believe” to clarify that the descriptions were my personal opinion. The edited version is now published on Ground Report and also posted below.  

The truth is that Vogt is the one spreading defamatory information. In her emails, Vogt describes me as “a hired gun paid to place these kinds of libelous smears in the media.” This is absolutely false. I am not paid for my advocacy efforts.

My articles prove that Vogt has repeatedly used anti-Amanda Knox websites as sources for her articles. Peggy Ganong, Vogt’s friend that runs the anti-Knox hate website Perugia Murder File, often claims that I am paid for my efforts.  Did Vogt rely once again on Ganong’s website as a source for information when making that false claim against me? Ganong has written publicly about her friendship with Vogt, despite the fact that Vogt has denied that they are friends.

Peggy Ganong discusses her friendship with Andrea Vogt

Much like Vogt, Ganong and her friends have often attempted to silence those that disagree with them. When my recent articles on Vogt’s reporting were first posted, Ganong’s friends openly discussed their efforts to have my articles removed from the internet.

I have made no attempt to silence Andrea Vogt or anyone else. I believe we all have the right to free speech. I have the right to inform the public that I believe Andrea Vogt is being dishonest to her readers by presenting herself as an objective journalist while reporting on the Amanda Knox case. I have shown proof that Vogt views anti-Knox websites as credible sources. I have also detailed Vogt’s vilification of Amanda Knox and I have highlighted her praise of Guiliano Mignini. Readers can review the article below and decide for themselves if Andrea Vogt should be viewed as an objective journalist.

Amanda Knox reporter Andrea Vogt‭ ‬continues to go to bat for prosecutor‭ ‬Giuliano Mignini 

Originally posted on Ground Report

In 2011, I wrote an article entitled: Amanda Knox and the Architects of the Foxy Knoxy Myth,” that discussed a trio of journalists: Nick Pisa, Barbie Nadeau and Andrea Vogt. All three have often reported in favor of Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor that secured the wrongful convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in 2009, for the murder of Meredith Kercher in November 2007.

Knox and Sollecito were acquitted on appeal in October of 2011. In March of this year, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the acquittals, sending the case back to the appellate level to review currently unknown aspects of the case. Knox and Sollecito remain free as the process continues.

Nick Pisa and Barbie Nadeau have since toned down their reports about the case, leaving Andrea Vogt to pick up the slack. It appears to me that Vogt has now become Giuliano Mignini’s designated blogger. When not writing about Knox, Vogt has been hard at work, doing her best to polish Mignini’s tarnished reputation. In a recent blog post, Vogt suggested that Mignini was winning a number of important victories in the Monster of Florence case. The case is unrelated to the Knox case but is often highlighted by Knox’s supporters to show Mignini’s history of misconduct. Vogt attempted to give the impression that Mignini would soon be vindicated when she blogged: “There was a major development in that case earlier this week, when a separate section of the Cassation court ruled that the decades-old Narducci case, which Mignini had been ridiculed for pursuing, be sensationally re-opened.”

The Monster of Florence case involves a series of murders that occurred in Italy during the 1970s and 80s. Couples, who were parked in remote areas presumably to have sex, were shot and the bodies of the female victims were mutilated. Crime experts believed that the perpetrator was a Jack the Ripper type killer. Mignini got involved in the Monster of Florence case while investigating the death of Dr. Francesco Narducci, whose body was found in a lake near Perugia.

Narducci’s death appeared to be a suicide. There was no evidence to suggest that Narducci’s death had any relation at all to the Monster of Florence murders. Oddly, in 2001, based on nothing other than his imagination, Mignini proclaimed that Narducci’s death was an integral part of the Monster of Florence mystery.
Giuliano Mignini
Mignini theorized that Narducci was part of an underground satanic cult that harvested female body parts for its rituals. Mignini suggested that Narducci somehow became a security risk to the cult, so the members decided to kill him and throw him in a lake to make it look like an accident or suicide.
Mignini then suggested that the cult secretly swapped Narducci’s body with the body of someone who had drowned, so the coroner would report death by drowning. Mignini ordered that the body be exhumed to prove his theory. When the coffin was opened to reveal the body of Narducci, Mignini made another wild claim suggesting the body must have been swapped again by the cult.

Mignini created an elaborate conspiracy involving 20 people who made up a secret society responsible for the Monster of Florence murders. Mignini’s double body swapping satanic cult ritualistic murder fantasy led to the indictment the 20 people, which included government officials and law enforcement officers, all charged with the concealment of Narducci’s murder.

The case against the 20 defendants was thrown out of court because there was absolutely no evidence to support Mignini’s preposterous claims. Mignini’s fantasy threatened to destroy the lives of 20 innocent people. Thankfully his behavior did not go unnoticed, leading to charges against him for conducting illegal investigations while working on the case.

The outcome of the Narducci case was a major blow to Mignini’s reputation so it would not be shocking for him to attempt to repair the damage by leaking information to willing reporters in an attempt to save face. According to credible sources in Italy (that prefer to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation by Mignini), Vogt’s claim that the Narducci case has been “sensationally re-opened” is just as ridiculous as Mignini’s body swap story.

The truth is the Italian Supreme Court closed the Narducci case forever. The court only ordered a retrial for calunnia (defamation) for one lawyer involved in the case.

This lawyer was at the core of the Narducci case providing counsel for the Narducci family. Mignini decided to dream up charges on him based on the fact that he was an amateur scuba diver. Mignini made yet another wild claim, suggesting the lawyer hid the body of Narducci on the bottom of the lake, and that was why he was representing the family as a lawyer, because he was involved in the case.

Mignini then charged the attorney with calunnia (defamation) for defending himself in court by claiming that Mignini made up the entire story. These charges would have been left to expire on their own but the lawyer wanted his name officially cleared. He did not want the charges to expire unanswered.

So the only lawsuit that is still pending in the Narducci case pertains to an attorney facing trial (by his own request) for calling Mignini a liar, that’s it. Yet Vogt, being a loyal cheerleader for Mignini, has repeatedly written that the Narducci case has been re-opened, suggesting that Mignini is somehow being vindicated.

In another blog post, Vogt supports Mignini again, reporting that he filed a lawsuit against the Italian magazine Oggi for simply reporting on Knox’s book “Waiting to Be Heard.” Vogt disputes Oggi’s allegations against Mignini in this blog excerpt: “contested are phrases reported by Oggi and attributed to Knox’s memoir claiming he (Mignini) had a bizarre past that included a conviction on abuse of office charges that was pending appeal, when in fact he was fully and definitively acquitted of those charges in 2011 by a Florence court.”

The truth is Giuliano Mignini was convicted in a Florence court for conducting illegal investigations in connection with the Narducci case. The court convicted Mignini for the following:

1.) Illegally investigating journalists who had criticized him with the “intent to harass or deter them from pursuing their legitimate profession.” Specifically the court found that Mignini had targeted Italian Journalists Vincenzo Tessandori, Gennaro De Stefano, and Roberto Fiasconaro, because they had criticized his investigations into the death of Narducci.

2.) Ordering an illegal investigation of the Florentine ex-police chief Giuseppe De Donno.

3.) Ordering illegal investigations of two officials of the Viminale, the Ministry of the Interior in Rome, including an illegal investigation of the Roberto Sgalla, ex-director of the office of external affairs.

These investigations were illegal because they involved illegal wiretaps (wiretaps without judicial approval) and Mignini illegally created investigative files for the targets outside of normal judicial procedures and approvals. These were illegal freelance investigations, the court determined, designed to “harass and intimidate” people who had criticized him for his conduct in the Narducci investigation.

The Florence court later canceled Mignini’s conviction, due to the fact that one of the people Mignini was convicted of abusing was a prosecutor from Florence, so it was ruled that the case should not have been tried there. The Florence court then sent the case to the prosecution office in Turin for retrial. Unfortunately the decision to move the trial venue caused the next available hearing date to fall after the expiration date of the charges, so the case will most likely be dropped. At that point, the case can be started all over again, should the Turin prosecution decide to do so. Turin will likely pursue the case against Mignini, but like many cases in Italy, reaching a final decision will take years.  There is a possibility that Mignini might end up getting off on a technicality but the case was certainly not closed forever as Vogt reports.

It is not clear why Vogt has taken an interest in propping up Giuliano Mignini. I do know that she wasted no time choosing sides in this case. I have observed her biased reporting dating back to 2008, when she developed what I would call an intimate relationship with anti-Knox bloggers, interviewing them as objective sources without disclosing that they had been blogging under fake names about their belief in Knox’s guilt long before she ever even had a trial. These bloggers gather on an Amanda Knox hate forum called Perugia Murder File (PMF), a website owned and operated by Seattle resident Peggy Ganong.

I wrote about the anti-Knox group in my book “Finding Justice in Perugia.” You can read the chapter detailing their activities here. Author Nina Burleigh reported on the anti-Knox group in an article entitled: “The Amanda Knox Haters Society: How They Learned to Hate Me Too,” and author Douglas Preston has also written about the group in his recent Amazon Single “Trial By Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amanda Knox Case.”

Vogt’s propensity for quoting anti-Knox bloggers as legitimate sources had not been confined to isolated incidents. Rather, she has kept up this pattern consistently for years. Very early in the case, Vogt quoted a “molecular biologist” named “Laura Wray,” under the guise the she was an objective source, when in fact she had been blogging on Amanda Knox hate sites as early as 2008. It was also later discovered that Wray had lied about her credentials.

Wray was not the first anti-Knox blogger Vogt would quote as an objective source. In January of 2009, before Knox had even been tried for murder, Vogt wrote an article for the Italian publication Panorama entitled “Meredith’s Murder Divides Seattle.” In the article she quoted a man named Randy Jackson, who is now a moderator of PMF. Vogt quoted Jackson as if he was an objective source without revealing that he had been blogging about his belief in Knox’s guilt for some time. That same article quoted a woman named Kris Arneson who had also been blogging on Amanda Knox hate sites quite frequently. Again, this fact was not revealed. One would assume an objective journalist would give some sort of disclosure in all these instances, but Andrea Vogt never did any such thing. The fact that Vogt often links to Ganong’s anti-Knox hate site as a credible source has raised serious questions about her honesty and closeness to that group.

In recent months I believe that Vogt’s writing has gone to new heights in an attempt to vilify Amanda Knox. In the same blog post discussing Mignini’s lawsuit against Oggi, Vogt includes an add on post entitled: “fact-check - Waiting to Be Heard,” where she makes a very weak attempt to show discrepancies between Knox’s book and letters Knox wrote to her attorneys in 2007. Vogt should be embarrassed that she did not scrap the fact-check idea when her comparisons provided nothing of value. Here is an excerpt from Vogt’s blog:

I’m also posting two letters from my case files that Amanda Knox wrote to her lawyers from jail because they reveal some noteworthy discrepancies with her memoir.

A few obvious examples: In the letter 1, Knox says she looked through the keyhole of Meredith’s locked door and could see her bed, with Meredith’s purse on it.  In Chapter 6 of her memoir she said she tried to look through the keyhole, but saw nothing.

In the letter she describes the “bathmat shuffle” in which she scooted on the bathmat with the bloody footprint into her room, then brought it back. This is not referenced in the memoir.

In the letter, she says she and Raffaele were in the kitchen when Meredith’s door was broken down, but her description in chapter six of memoir makes no reference to being in the kitchen.

She tells her lawyers the police “gave me time” to write a statement, while in chapter 11 of her memoir she says the police officer said “you’d better write fast.”

When looking at Vogt’s “discrepancies” above, it is clear that most pertain to details not included in Amanda’s book rather than contradictory statements. None of Vogt’s examples show any conflicts in Knox’s writing. This is glaringly obvious in Vogt’s first example. When Knox discusses looking through the keyhole in her book, she was making the point that she did not see Meredith. The other items were of no importance so it is no surprise to see these details omitted from the book.

Vogt should be well aware of the fact that Knox’s book was edited by her publisher. I have been told that her rough draft was far too long (which is not out of the ordinary) and needed to be condensed. Including every possible detail of every hour of everyday is simply not possible, but I suppose Vogt would like to blame Knox for the edits of her publisher anyway.

Vogt’s only attempt to show a discrepancy fails miserably when she tries to make an issue of Knox stating the police “gave me time” in comparison to her book where she stated the police officer said “you’d better write fast.” Knox gives more detailed descriptions in her book than she did in her letters to her attorneys. Vogt’s attempts to nit-pick every word looking for minor detail changes looks desperate on her part.

In her latest article entitled “Dismal sales of Perugia memoir leave Amanda Knox in a fix,” Vogt appears to be giddy that Knox’s book “Waiting to Be Heard” has not sold 750,000 copies. While it is true that HarperCollins bid very high for the rights to Knox’s memoir (leading them to set the bar too high for a book of this nature), that is no fault of the author. The first run of “Waiting to Be Heard” will most likely top off around 100,000 copies including hard copy and e-book. Vogt knows full well that these figures are far from dismal. Vogt would be hard pressed to find a first time author that was disappointed to hit number one on the NY Times best seller list with the sales volume Knox has achieved. The paperback edition will bring additional sales as well.

Sadly Vogt’s desperate attempt to label Knox a failure has caused her to miss the mark completely. The truth is Knox does not view her book as a reason to celebrate and did not write the book to win awards or to get her name on the top of a best sellers list. Knox has suffered greatly and has every right to tell her side of the story. The book has been her chance to set the record straight in her own words.

I believe that Vogt is being dishonest to her readers by presenting herself as an objective journalist while reporting on the Amanda Knox case. Journalists must be held at a higher standard. We need integrity from those who claim to be journalists.