A lawyer for an Italian journalist on trial for publishing classified Holy See information is insisting on the right of the press to report the news, saying: "Since when is asking questions a crime?"

Attorney Roberto Palombi made his closing arguments Wednesday in the case that has drawn criticism from international media rights groups. Two journalists and three people affiliated with a papal reform commission are accused of conspiring to publish classified information.

A verdict is expected Thursday. The defendants face up to eight years in prison though prosecutors asked for a maximum of three years and nine months for one of the commission members.

Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi wrote books last year partly based on confidential Vatican documents exposing greed, mismanagement and corruption in the Holy See.