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Journalistic integrity questioned once again in the Amanda Knox case

This article was originally published on Ground Report.

Has a recent translation of a conversation between Amanda Knox and her father shortly after her arrest in 2007, opened up new questions about John Follain’s journalistic integrity while reporting on the Meredith Kercher murder case?

Meredith Kercher was murdered in 2007, in Perugia, Italy. Three people were charged with the crime, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede. Guede’s conviction was finalized and he is currently serving a 16-year sentence. Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009, and then were declared innocent on appeal and released in 2011. The two were then convicted once again in 2014, and have appealed that ruling to the Italian Supreme Court. A ruling on that appeal is expected at the end of this month.

This case has been in the headlines for over seven years. Many have questioned if the media has worked to negatively influence public opinion with misleading coverage about Amanda Knox. Knox’s supporters certainly believe this to be true. I wrote an article in 2011 titled “Amanda Knox and the architects of the Foxy Knoxy myth” discussing the irreparable damage caused by the media coverage of this case.

Follain talks with Monica Napaleoni, head of Perugia’s homicide squad at the time of the trial, and prosecutor Giuliano Mignini
Follain talks with Monica Napaleoni, head of Perugia’s homicide squad at the time of the trial, and prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

Follain talks with Monica Napaleoni, head of Perugia’s homicide squad at the time of the trial, and prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

John Follain reports for the Sunday Times in London. He has reported extensively on the Meredith Kercher murder case and has also written a book on the subject. His reporting has helped to influence public opinion of the case in Britain throughout the course of the investigation and ongoing trials. Follain is known to have a friendly relationship with prosecutors and the police involved in the case. During the first trial, he was often seen whispering in their ears during court sessions.

Follain was not included as an architect in my article mentioned above but he certainly fits the mold. Follain has made no attempt to hide which side hesupports. I wrote an article in 2011 titled “Prosecution lackey John Follain claims to give definitive account of Amanda Knox casedescribing Follain’s openly biased reporting.

New information indicates once again that Follain may have crossed the line in pursuit to prove his position correct. A recent translation of prison interceptions completed by Injustice Anywhere, can be found on amandaknoxcase.com, that challenges Follain’s credibility. The translation suggests that Follain misrepresented dialogue between Amanda Knox and her father in his book, in an attempt to put a negative spin on the context of their conversation.

Here is an excerpt from Follan’s book, “A Death in Italy: The Definitive Account of the Amanda Knox Case” (Kindle edition, 2013):

Asked about her latest meeting with the lawyer Ghirga, Amanda said they had talked about ‘the knife with Meredith’s DNA’ – she made no mention of her own DNA on it. ‘I don’t understand how Meredith’s DNA can be on it because I never took it to my house for anything. . . so it’s a mistake . . . or Raffaele brought it home . . . but I think that can’t be either, because he was with me in the house . . . so there must be a mistake . . . and [Ghirga] told me: OK, we’ll say it was a mistake.

When we compare Follain’s writing to the actual transcript, we see a slight variation:

Amanda’s Father: How did it go with Luciano?

Amanda: It went well, he asked me about the evidence and the matter of the soap… he said “You bought the soap because Raffaele said that you bought the soap” and I replied “No, I didn’t buy the soap”… so OK, the knife, because the only thing we have to get us out of here is the knife that doesn’t have Meredith’s DNA but honestly I don’t understand how Meredith’s DNA can be there because I never took it to my house to use it… so… either (—)… or it was Raffaele who took it to my house but I don’t believe this is possible either because he was at home with me and so he said we will wait (—)

Follain appears to create the line “OK, we’ll say it was a mistake” from Ghirga to Amanda out of thin air. Amanda doesn’t mention it at all.

Follain appears to add non-existent dialogue once again, changing the tone of Amanda’s statement here:

Amanda continued: ‘And then [Ghirga] asked me at what level I know this other man . . . this Rudy. Is that his name, Rudy?’

Here is what Amanda actually said:

Amanda: Ehm… he asked me how well I knew… this other boy

Follain continues:

Curt replied no one had said anything yet about his name. Amanda told him the TV had given his name.

By changing the dialogue, Follain works to establish that Curt calls out Amanda for mentioning Rudy’s name before anyone else had mentioned it. But that is not what happened. Here is the actual dialogue:

Amanda: Ehm… he asked me how well I knew… this other boy

Amanda’s Father: They still haven’t given a name yet

Amanda: Oh, they’re saying it on the TV

Amanda’s Father: You think I can understand Italian TV? Ha ha ha.

Amanda: ha ha ha

Amanda’s Father: I couldn’t even understand Luciano and Daniela…

Amanda: Did he have to translate for you?

Amanda’s Father: Yes

As I previously wrote, this is not the first time Follain’s reporting has come under scrutiny. Follain is probably best known for is writing the June 15, 2008 article containing an interview with Amanda Knox’s parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas. The interview led to charges of criminal slander for the two for simply for repeating what Amanda had told them about being hit during her interrogation. Curt Knox told Follain that “Amanda was abused physically and verbally. She told us she was hit in the back of the head by a police officer with an open hand, at least twice. The police told her, ‘If you ask for a lawyer, things will get worse for you’ and ‘If you don’t give us some explanation for what happened, you’re going to go to jail for a very long time.” The seemingly ridiculous slander case against Curt Knox and Edda Mellas is still pending.

In that same article, Follain’s journalistic integrity is put in doubt by his errors in describing a story about rape that Amanda Knox had posted on her Myspace page. Follain summarized it as a story in “which a young woman drugs and rapes another woman” and quoted from it as follows: “She fell on the floor, she felt the blood on her mouth and swallowed it. She couldn’t move her jaw and felt as if someone was moving a razor on the left side of her face.”

Follain completely misrepresented the story, suggesting that it glorifies rape. In fact, the story is about the relationship between two brothers, one of whom accuses the other of drugging and raping a girl. This leads to a physical altercation between the brothers, described as follows: “Edgar dropped to the floor and tasted the blood in his mouth and swallowed it. He couldn’t move his jaw and it felt like someone was jabbing a razor into the left side of his face.” This story has been available online ever since Amanda and Raffaele were arrested. Why did Follain alter the text? Perhaps he did so because an accurate description of the story would not have the lurid and incriminating spin he wanted to convey to his readers.

The rape story is one example of many showing that Follain’s writing has shown a deep sexual obsession with Amanda Knox. Trashy headlines seem to never fail to accompany a Follain article about Knox, such as: “Amanda Knox snared by her lust and her lies”, “Foxy Knoxy the ‘she-devil’ waits serene”, and “Diary reveals Foxy Knoxy’s sex secrets.”

In September 2008, Follain wrote an article headlined “Amanda Knox, ‘Foxy Knoxy’, reveals her lesbian trauma.” Follain based the entire story line on the fact that Amanda had mentioned to Raffaele that some of her high school classmates thought she might be a lesbian, because she had helped a gay male friend set up an organization for gay students.

In December 2009, on the day of the first trial’s verdict, Follain suggested in an article that the relationship between Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher had soured because “it appears that it was Knox’s sex life that really drove a wedge between the women.” Follain’s claims had no factual basis whatsoever. Both women were sexually active and there was no evidence showing that Meredith ever said anything negative about Amanda’s sex life.

Sadly, information about Meredith Kercher’s killer Rudy Guede is most often ignored by John Follain in his writing. This is odd seeing that Follain claimed to write the definitive book on the Meredith Kercher case. The evidence against Rudy Guede is overwhelming:

• Guede admitted he was at the cottage and in the murder room.

• Guede’s DNA was found inside Meredith’s vagina.

• Guede’s DNA was found on Meredith’s jacket and bra.

• Guede’s shoe prints, set in Meredith’s blood, were found in the bedroom and hallway.

• Guede’s hand prints in Meredith’s blood were found on the pillow case underneath her body.

• Guede’s DNA along with Meredith’s blood, was found on Meredith’s purse.

• Guede’s excrement was found in the toilet and his DNA on the toilet paper.

• Guede had a long cut on his right hand that was still visible when he was arrested two weeks later.

• Guede fled the country shortly after the murder.

• Guede had a history of burglary with a knife.

• Guede admitted to going dancing after watching Meredith bleeding, aspirating blood and dying.

Rudy Guede Evidence Map

Rudy Guede should be at the heart of every discussion on the Meredith Kercher case. It was a ruling made at Guede’s trial that led the Italian Supreme Court (ISC) to overturn the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito. Guede opted for a Fast-Track trial, separate from Knox and Sollecito. Guede’s story changed like the wind as he worked to give himself the best opportunity for leniency. When it was all said and done, the Guede trial court concluded that multiple attackers committed the crime, naming Knox and Sollecito as perpetrators. This ruling was signed off on by the ISC without stipulation when they finalized Guede’s verdict.

Therefore, the multiple attacker scenario, including Knox and Sollecito, became a judicial truth in the eyes of the ISC. The problem is that Knox and Sollecito had absolutely no representation at Guede’s trial. They were convicted in the eyes of the ISC in a trial that they were not part of. With their decision, the ISC stripped Knox and Sollecito of their rights to a fair trial granted to them by Italian law.

Why is Rudy Guede not the focus of Follain’s reporting? Is it because Guede’s story does not have the making for salacious headlines? Only Follain can truly answer that question. The examples of Follain’s work discussed in this article call into question everything he has ever written about Amanda Knox and the Meredith Kercher case.

This case has dragged on for over seven years. To this day, people that discuss the case continue to repeat misinformation that was put forth by the media early on. Negligent journalism has the power to cause irreparable damage. Sadly, journalists covering this case continue to cause damage by ignoring the fact that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are being punished by a ruling made at a trial where they had no representation.

Which mainstream journalists will show integrity when the case makes headlines again this month as the Italian Supreme Court decision approaches? Which mainstream journalists will report the facts and speak the truth? Only time will tell.

The translations used in this article were made available by unpaid volunteers in order for journalists and the public to have a better understanding of the case. The original Italian language documents and translations have been posted at amandaknoxcase.com.