Amanda Knox returned to Italy on Thursday for the first time since she was freed from prison there, after she was acquitted in a sensational murder case that captivated the public for years.
Knox agreed to speak at the Criminal Justice Festival’s “Trial by Media” panel in Modena on Saturday, the latest step in her long journey back to public life.
The life of the Seattle native and University of Washington student was upended during her time studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. In 2009, she and her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, were first convicted of the 2007 murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. Knox spent four years in prison before an appeals court overturned her sentence in 2011, whereupon she returned to the United States. In 2015, their convictions were overturned by Italy’s highest appeals court, which said that there was no evidence that she had committed the crime.
Rudy Guede, another suspect who was later convicted of Kercher’s murder, is serving a 16-year sentence, the Associated Press reported.
“Amanda Knox is the icon of trials that the media carry out before the trial in court is conducted,” one of the festival organizers, Guido Sola, told CNN. “Amanda has been definitively acquitted in court, but in the popular imagination she is still guilty because she has been the victim of a barbaric media trial.”
Knox wrote on Twitter that she had declined to conduct interviews ahead of her panel appearance. But in a Wednesday Medium post titled “Your content, my life,” Knox recalls feeling violated by the highly public nature of her trial and spoke of her apprehension about returning to Italy.
“While on trial for a murder I didn’t commit, my prosecutor painted me as a sex-crazed femme fatale, and the media profited for years by sensationalizing an already sensational and utterly unjustified story,” she wrote. “It’s on us to stop making and stop consuming such irresponsible media.”
She explained that she made her social media-accounts visible in an attempt to reclaim her narrative and space in the public sphere.
“I just wanted to have what every other person around me had, the freedom to shout into the wind and say, ‘Here I am!’ The freedom to strike up an unexpected conversation with a friendly digital stranger,” she writes. “I have that now, but for me, it comes with the cost of absorbing insults and hatred and having my life fed into the content machine that seems endlessly hungry, especially now that I’m going back to Italy.”
Knox has taken other steps over the years to share her side of the story, and describes herself as an author and journalist. In 2013, Knox published “Waiting to Be Heard,” a memoir of her experience in Italy’s criminal-justice system. She also appeared in “Amanda Knox,” a 2016 Netflix documentary about her case.
She hosts a podcast, “The Truth About True Crime,” which focuses on wrongful-conviction cases, and “The Scarlet Letter Reports,” a collaboration between Facebook and Vice Media in which women speak to Knox about “the deeply personal journey of being sexualized, scrutinized, and demonized by the media – and how they’ve rebuilt their lives after their most personal details have been made public,” according to a Facebook description.