A Spanish monsignor accused of leaking confidential Vatican documents has admitted in a Vatican court that he passed confidential information to Italian journalists.
Mgr Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, testified yesterday that he leaked several documents to two journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who wrote books exposing overspending and financial irregularity in Vatican departments.
Mgr Vallejo Balda also admitted to giving Nuzzi five pages containing passwords to private emails and password-protected documents.
Mgr Vallejo Balda claimed he was under pressure from Francesca Chaouqui, a PR consultant and fellow-member of the former Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See.
Chaouqui is also standing trial and says she is innocent.
The monsignor claimed that Chaouqui had threatened to reveal an intense relationship between them. Mgr Vallejo Balda told the court he became doubtful of Chaouqui’s character, saying she told him she was “the number two in the Italian secret service” and that he suspected she had ties with the Mafia.
He also claimed that Corrado Lanino, Chaouqui’s husband and the IT technician for the commission, pressured him to find a job for Chaouqui given that her term at the pontifical commission was ending.
All this, he testified, “gave me the moral certainty that there were illegitimate things behind Chaouqui.”
The so-called “VatiLeaks” trial resumed in a Vatican courtroom yesterday after a three-month delay to allow defence lawyers time to prepare their case.
Along with Mgr Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and the two journalists, the fifth defendant is Nicola Maio, who served as personal assistant to Mgr Vallejo Balda when he worked on the commission.
Mgr Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and Maio are accused of “committing several illegal acts of divulging news and documents concerning fundamental interests of the Holy See and (Vatican City) State”. Nuzzi and Fittipaldi are accused of “soliciting and exercising pressure, especially on (Mgr) Vallejo Balda, in order to obtain confidential documents and news”.
Although the Vatican prosecution’s case asserts that Nuzzi and Fittipaldi illegally obtained the confidential documents, both journalists defended their right to freedom of the press.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told journalists on March 12 that Mgr Vallejo Balda was remanded back to a Vatican jail cell after it was discovered he violated the terms of his house arrest by communicating with the outside world.
Fr Lombardi told reporters Mgr Vallejo Balda would continue testifying today and that the trial would most likely continue until after Easter.