.- A person suspected of leaking sensitive internal Vatican documents has been arrested and is currently being detained “in a secure room” by the Vatican police.
“The investigation initiated by the Gendarmerie under instructions received by the Commission of Cardinals and under the direction of the Promoter of Justice, has identified a person in possession of confidential documents,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the media May 25.
Italian media reports are naming the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, as the person being held by police. Gabriele's position would have allowed him access to the Pope's quarters and a search of his apartment has allegedly revealed a cache of confidential documents.
The arrest follows several months of so-called “Vatileaks” in which numerous documents about the internal workings of the Vatican were passed on to the Italian media.
Last week, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi released a new book entitled “Sua Santita” (His Holiness), which contained a series of leaked letters addressed personally to Pope Benedict.
In it he gives his mole the codename “Maria,” although he also claims to have more than one source of information inside the Vatican.
Earlier this year the same journalist also revealed confidential correspondence sent to Pope Benedict by the current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
In those letters, Archbishop Vigano pleaded to remain in his previous post as Secretary of the Vatican City’s government. He also claimed to be the victim of a smear campaign by those aggrieved at his reforms of the Vatican’s purchasing procedures.
In response to the spate of leaks, Pope Benedict established in April a special commission of three cardinals, chaired by the Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, to investigate their source.
Cardinal Herranz told CNA on the evening of May 24 that the leaks were “confusing souls and also giving the Church and the Holy See a completely unfair image.”
The case of the suspect arrested today is being dealt with by the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, Nicola Picardi, who is the chief prosecutor for the Vatican City State.
It is unclear at present whether any potential prosecution would be dealt with by Vatican or Italian courts. The 1929 Lateran Treaty between the two states does make provision for crimes within the Vatican City State to be dealt with through the Italian legal system, with the Vatican picking up the cost for any trial or imprisonment.
Updated at 12:18 p.m. MST. Adds media reports about Pope's butler being the suspect.