VATICAN CITY — Two Italian journalists who wrote books detailing Vatican mismanagement go on trial Tuesday in a Vatican courtroom along with three people accused of leaking them the information in a case that has drawn scorn from media watchdogs around the world.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE, among others, have all called on the Vatican to drop the charges against Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi. The two reporters face up to eight years in prison if convicted of charges they violated Vatican law by publishing news based on confidential Holy See documents.

In interviews Monday, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi both called the process “Kafka-esque.” With hours to go before the start of trial, neither they nor their lawyers had seen the court file detailing the accusations against them. Nuzzi only spoke for the first time with his Vatican court-appointed lawyer Monday morning. They were indicted Friday.

Even though they technically risk arrest by stepping on Vatican soil Tuesday, both said they planned to attend the trial – if only to report to the world what transpires. The Vatican is a sovereign state, and by entering Vatican territory, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi could well be detained by Vatican gendarmes given the grave accusations against them. But neither expected the Vatican would take that route, given the diplomatic incident it would set off with Italy.

“This is a trial against freedom of the press,” Fittipaldi said in an interview at his offices in the headquarters of Rome’s La Repubblica newspaper. “In no other part of the world, at least in the part of the world that considers itself democratic, is there a crime of a scoop, a crime of publishing news.”

If convicted Nuzzi and Fittipaldi face up to eight years in prison.

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