Far-right Bootcamp With Ties to Steve Bannon Evicted From Italian Monastery Due to Lease Issues

The Italian culture ministry has announced it evicted what has been described as a far-right political bootcamp from a thirteenth-century monastery, AFP reports. The bootcamp has ties to Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, through its Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), which Bannon funds.

According to AFP, the bootcamp—which had been established to train students to "defend the West"—had been given a 19 year lease on Trisulti Charterhouse in the Province of Frosinone, central Italy, in February 2018. However, the ministry said on Thursday that the group had falsely tendered for the lease, and thus they were evicted. This follows reports from May that the ministry was intending to revoke the lease due to "violations of various contractual obligations," according to The Telegraph.

This will come as a blow to Benjamin Harnwell, a British conservative and the director of DHI, who had hoped to launch the first three-week course to a small group of students this year and was in the process of securing planning permission to revamp the venue. Harnwell is an associate of Bannon, who had reportedly promised to give $1 million to the project.

Steve Bannon
Former White House Chief Strategist and editor Breitbart Steve Bannon (pictured) has ties to the DHI, who have lost their contract on an Italian monastery due to problems with the lease. Sean Gallup/Gallup

What is the Dignitatis Humanae Institute?

The DHI is a Rome-based organization that describes itself on its website as a think tank with the aim of protecting and promoting "human dignity based on the anthropological truth that man is born in the image and likeness of God." It works with legislators to promote the Christian voice in the public arena, which it says is being silenced.

The organization has ties to some of the most conservative factions of the Catholic community. This is exemplified in its appointment of Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, who served as honorary president before stepping down and—later—cutting ties with the organization earlier this year.

Martino takes a strictly conservative stance on issues such as abortion, which led him in 2007 to call on Catholics to withdraw monetary support from Amnesty International after it announced its support of decriminilization of abortion. He also caused outrage in 2009 when he described Gaza as "a big concentration camp."

How is Bannon connected?

Harnwell told Reuters in 2018 that Bannon, a former White House strategist and Breitbart editor, had been helping to "build up" the institute for half of its (then) eight-year existence. Burke confirmed Bannon would be taking a "leading role" at the institute.

According to the Catholic Herald, Martino's motivations for eventually cutting ties with DHI was Bannon's influence over the group. In a statement at the time, he said the organization was becoming "more and more identified" with the political program of Steve Bannon.

Describing his vision of the bootcamp to CBS in March 2019, Bannon said it plans to offer students, "the kind of underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West… what the values are, what we stand for, and also, in modern media, what we call a modern gladiator school."