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Roberto Saviano on the War Against Organised Crime

Roberto Saviano discusses his bestseller Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia, the price the mafia price put on his head, and his campaign against the world of organised crime.

‘I’m afraid of many things,’ the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano has said. ‘But dying isn’t one of them.’ As the author of the international bestseller Gomorrah, which exposed the workings of the Neapolitan crime syndicate the Camorra, Saviano faces the possibility of retribution every day. His book — which has sold 10 million copies around the world — earned Saviano a death sentence from the crime bosses he had exposed. For the past nine years, he has lived under constant armed guard, moving from one secret location to another. None of this has deterred him from waging war on organised crime with words as his only weapon. His reportage has helped secure life sentences for 16 mafia ringleaders.

Roberto Saviano made a rare appearance in the UK when he came to the Intelligence Squared stage. In conversation with BBC foreign correspondent Fergal Keane, Saviano talked about his life in hiding and his beginnings as a reporter on the streets of Naples. He revealed his latest work of investigative reporting, Zero Zero Zero, in which he delves into the sprawling network of the global cocaine trade. He traced how the $400 billion a year generated by drugs trafficking filters into the international banking system through money laundering from Wall Street to the City of London. The cocaine trade isn’t just a playground for criminals, Saviano argued. It is part of the structure of our global economy where some of the biggest players — the banks — have profited without facing a single criminal conviction.



Roberto Saviano

Egyptian-American freelance journalist

Journalist and author of Gomorrah, an internationally bestselling investigation of the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples. After receiving death threats from mafia bosses in 2006, he was granted a permanent police escort by the Italian Minister of the Interior. He was awarded the PEN/Pinter prize in 2011.

Fergal Keane

Foreign correspondent for BBC News

Foreign correspondent for BBC News. His books include Season of Blood, which won the Orwell prize, and Road of Bones: Siege of Kohima 1944. Winner of a Bafta award for his documentary Valentina’s Story, about the Rwandan genocide. Awarded the OBE for services to journalism.