Francesco Pazienza (born 1946) is an Italian businessman, and former officer of the Italian military intelligence agency, SISMI. As of April 2007, he has been paroled to the community of Lerici, after serving many years in prison, including a 1993 conviction due to his role in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, and a 1982 conviction for mishandling state secrets.
Pazienza holds a degree in medicine from the University of Rome. He worked as a business consultant in France during the 1970s. In 1979 he was hired into SISMI, and became an assistant to SISMI director, General Giuseppe Santovito. Pazienza left the intelligence agency in wake of the Propaganda Due scandal that rocked the Italian political scene in 1981. The Banco Ambrosiano scandal, Roberto Calvi's "suicide," and charges of mishandling state secrets concerned with the 1980 Bologna bombing, made Pazienza a fugitive from Italian law.
Eventually, Pazienza ended up in the United States. A first extradition request from Italy was handed to the U.S. government in 1984, but Pazienza was not yet arrested. His arrest come only on March 4, 1985. Extradition procedures ensued, and a judge order him to stand trial in Italy, an appeal process did not change that, and Pazienza was handed over to the Italian government in June 1986.
Mehmet Ali Ağca
During the trial of Mehmet Ali Ağca's 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, Ağca claimed to have been visited by Pazienza in his prison cell at Rome's Ascoli Piceno (this came just after the presiding judge called for pazienza in the court room). That Pazienza visited Ağca was also claimed by a former camorrista turned pentiti, Giovanni Pandico. From his New York prison, Pazienza denied ever having visited Ağca; Pazienza was question on this issue by Italian investigative judge, Ilario Martella, in New York. A short time later, Martella dropped the charges of Agca being "coached" by supposed elements from the Italian military intelligence.
When Pazienza was still a fugitive, he was questioned in the United States by Customs agents regarding financial fraud charges brought in Italy that had grown out of the disappearance of funds, about $3 million, from the Banco Ambrosiano. Pazienza later claimed that these Customs agents had told him that Stefano Delle Chiaie had been seen in Miami, Florida, with an unidentified Turk, and repeated his position during the time he was on trial on charges stemming from the 1980 Bologna bombing. It is unclear if this Turk was Oral Çelik or Abdullah Çatlı.
Billy Carter Investigation
1985 Wall Street Journal investigation suggested that a series of Billygate articles written by Michael Ledeen and published in The New Republic in October 1980 were part of a disinformation campaign intended to influence the outcome of that year's presidential election. According to the reporting, Francesco Pazienza, alleged that Ledeen was paid $120,000 for his work on Billygate and other projects. Pazienza was later tried and convicted in absentia for using "extortion and fraud to obtain embarrassing facts about Billy Carter".
Pazienza was sentenced in 1988 for trying to divert the investigation into the 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station, on charges relating the planting of similar explosive materials in a train in 1981, leading a trail away from the actual perpetrators. In 1990, his conviction was reversed on appeals, but a retrial resulted in a definitive prison term handed out in 1995.
- "Faccenderie Pazienza Volontario Pubblica Assistenza Lerici". ANSA. 2007-04-17.
- "Olivetti Chief Convicted in Bank Scandal". The Guardian. 1993-04-17. p. 21.
- "Tale of Intrigue: How an Italian Ex-Spy Who Also Helped U.S. Landed in Prison Here". Wall Street Journal. 1985-08-07. p. 1.
- "Former Italian Spy Loses First Round in Extradition Case". Wall Street Journal. 1985-09-12. p. 1.
- "Pazienza Extradited". Financial Times. 1986-06-20. p. 1.
- Alexander Cockburn (Jul 6–13, 1985). "The Gospel According to Ali Agca". The Nation.
- "Former Spy Says He Warned the Vatican Of Assassination Try --- Name of Pazienza Crops Up At Trial of the Bulgarians In Attempt to Kill Pope". Wall Street Journal. 1985-08-08. p. 1.
- "Three deny Agca was coached about 'Bulgarian connection'". UPI. 1985-12-12.
- "Rome Inquiry: Was Agca Coached?". The New York Times. 1985-10-08. pp. A3.
- "Italian Is in New York, Investigating Papal Plot". The New York Times. 1985-12-11. pp. A7.
- "Italian Judge Said to Drop Probe of Agca Being Coached". The Washington Post. 1985-12-18. pp. A31.
- "The Bulgarian Connection Still Holds". Wall Street Journal. 1986-02-12. p. 1.
- "Italian Ex-Agent Ordered Extradited from U.S.". The New York Times. 1985-09-12. pp. A12.
- "Suspected Right-Wing Terrorist Questioned in Papal Shooting". Associated Press. 1987-04-17.
- Unger, Craig (July 2006). "The War They Wanted, the Lies They Needed". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
A 1985 investigation by Jonathan Kwitny in The Wall Street Journal reported that the New Republic article was part of a larger disinformation scam run by Ledeen and SISMI to tilt the election, and that “Billy Carter wasn’t the only one allegedly getting money from a foreign government.” According to Pazienza, Kwitny reported, Michael Ledeen had received at least $120,000 from SISMI in 1980 or 1981 for his work on Billygate and other projects. Ledeen even had a coded identity, Z-3, and had money sent to him in a Bermuda bank account, Pazienza said. Ledeen told the Journal that a consulting firm he owned, I.S.I., worked for SISMI and may have received the money. He said he did not recall whether he had a coded identity. Pazienza was subsequently convicted in absentia on multiple charges, including having used extortion and fraud to obtain embarrassing facts about Billy Carter. Ledeen was never charged with any crime, but he was cited in Pazienza’s indictment, which read, “With the illicit support of the SISMI and in collaboration with the well-known American ‘Italianist’ Michael Ledeen, Pazienza succeeded in extorting, also using fraudulent means, information … on the Libyan business of Billy Carter, the brother of the then President of the United States.”
- "Italy's No. 1 Fugitive Arrested by Customs Agents". Associated Press. 1985-03-04.
- "Appeals Court Throws Out Bologna Bombing Convictions". Associated Press. 1990-07-29.
- "Italy remembers 1980 Bologna train station massacre". ANSA. 2007-08-02.