Attempted extortion

Attempted extortion

Francesca Chaouqui, one of the two main suspects in the scandal over the leaking of Vatican documents to journalists, is being investigated by the Italian judiciary.

The prosecutor's office of the city of Terni, near Rome, suspects Chaouqui and her husband of extortion and unauthorized access to computers, according to the daily Corriere della Sera (Thursday).

Her husband, the computer scientist Corrado Lanino, was a webmaster in Vatican service until some time ago. He was responsible for matters of the lowest security level here, the newspaper said. The two allegedly tried to blackmail the victims with the documents copied from computers without permission. This is also said to involve accounts at the Vatican Bank IOR and possible kickbacks in canonization proceedings, according to the report.

The 33-year-old PR expert was temporarily detained over the weekend by the Vatican gendarmerie on suspicion of betraying secrets. Due to her willingness to cooperate with investigators, she was released again on Monday. She protested her innocence and incriminated the high-ranking Vatican cleric Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, who was arrested with her. Vatican investigators accused both of leaking confidential documents to two Italian journalists. Their books were published this Thursday.

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