Italy revoking lease for monastery that Stephen Bannon wanted for far-right training academy

Italy revoking lease for monastery that Stephen Bannon wanted for far-right training academy
© Greg Nash

The Italian government announced Friday it will revoke the rights to a medieval monastery outside of Rome where former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon planned to use to train far-right nationalists.

Gianluca Vacca, an official at Italy’s culture ministry, said in a statement it revoked the lease for the Monastery of Trisulti because of a failure to pay the concession fee and do maintenance work, among other things.

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“Proceeding with the revocation is thus a duty,” Vacca said, adding that the decision had “nothing to do” with “political opinions.”

The move represents a major obstacle in the formation of what one Bannon associate told The Washington Post last year would be a “gladiator school for culture warriors.”

Bannon is an ally of Matteo Salvini, a well-known far-right politician in Italy, but his plan for the monastery grated some left-leaning members of the country’s Parliament.

The lease, which required annual rent payments of 100,000 euros ($112,000), was first secured in 2017 by Human Dignity Institute, a conservative Catholic Think Tank run by Bannon associate Benjamin Harnwell, according to The Post. 

“[The project is] definitely going to work,” Harnwell told The Washington Post late last year. “I’ve got lecturers writing from all over the world. It’s got to do with the fact that Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonBannon to testify in Roger Stone's trial Prosecutor says Stone lied to Congress to protect Trump as trial opens Trial of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone begins MORE’s name is attached to it.” 

Harnwell told the paper Friday he intends to dispute the lease’s revocation with “every resource at its disposal no matter how many years it takes.” 

“The Ministry for Culture might be prepared to surrender to every whim of the extreme left — the [Human Dignity Institute] will never do so,” Harnwell said. “This is nothing more than the braying of the cultural Marxist left against the defense of Western Civilization.”

Bannon added in his own statement Friday that “The fight for Trisulti is a microcosm of the fight for the Judeo-Christian West.”

Harnwell maintained that his think tank does not have funding problems and that he had an agreement with the culture ministry to pay for renovations using rent payments. 

Allegations had previously been made that a letter supporting the think tank’s business plan had been fraudulent, according to The Economist.

Bannon told the magazine that “everything actually is totally legitimate” and that “All of this stuff is just dust being kicked up by the left.”