Vatican City

Vatican reform panelist says she's victim of 'moles'

Chaouqui breaks silence, 'scandal tweets were Photoshopped'

Vatican reform panelist says she's victim of 'moles'

Vatican City, September 18 - A member of the new Vatican financial reform panel accused of leaking allegations against the Holy See's outgoing secretary of state has broken her silence, claiming to be the victim of a set-up by new "moles" in the Vatican. Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, 30, made headlines last month when Twitter messages attributed to her account surfaced in Italian media, the most scandalous alleging that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was "corrupt" and that he was involved in shady business affairs with an unidentified Italian company. "Those tweets were doctored with Photoshop then sent to the newspapers along with excerpts from my private correspondences and content from my Facebook profile that were stolen," she told Italian weekly Panorama in an interview on news stands tomorrow. Bertone, who was appointed secretary of state during Benedict XVI's papacy, is said to have been a divisive figure within the Vatican and was widely seen as the target of the so-called 'Vatileaks' campaign involving confidential Church documents leaked to the press by the former pope's butler last year. The Vatican announced the end of August that Pope Francis had named archbishop Pietro Parolin, who is currently the Holy See's representative in Venezuela, to replace Bertone in October. Chaouqui, a former Ernst & Young communications manager, is the only woman and only Italian on the eight-member pontifical commission set up in July to overhaul the Vatican's financial administration. "As soon as the commission was announced, someone took aim at me," she told Panorama. "Maybe they did so because I'm the only Italian on the commission. They used a British company to hack my account from the UK...I have the report from Google that shows it". Other tweets she says were fake include a February post that fueled rumors that then pope Benedict XVI was suffering from cancer in the run-up to his abdication: "I confirm: the pope has been suffering from leukaemia for more than a year". Another, which alleged former Italian economy minister Giulio Tremonti was gay, was enough to prompt legal action against her and editors at Il Giornale, the daily that re-published the tweets. "Tremonti held an account with the (Vatican Bank). They shut it down when they found out he is gay," said the tweet attributed to Chaouqui.

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