During its short yet intense existence, the Italian Federation of the International Workers’ Association (Federazione Italiana dell’Associazione Internazionale dei Lavoratori - fi-ail, 1872-1880), which was led by Carlo Cafiero (1846-1892), Andrea Costa (1851-1910), Errico Malatesta (1853-1932) and inspired by the new anarchism of Mikhail Bakunin, carried out a fervid propaganda of socialist and revolutionary principles through conventions, assemblies, periodicals, posters, and newsletters. For these reasons, the Federation caught immediately the eye of the law enforcement agency and soon came across a sequence of searches, requisitions, apprehensions, trials, and detention. The overall goal of the article is therefore to shed light on the behaviour of the three internationalists during the questionings they were subjected to in prison after the two apprehensions that took place between 1871 and 1873. Such endeavour can provide unprecedented biographical details as well as new information regarding their different characters. In addition, the comparison of their statements with actual historical facts can help identifying the different "defensive strategies" they adopted during the questioning.
Keywords: Prima Internazionale, fi-ail, Carlo Cafiero, Andrea Costa, Errico Malatesta, interrogatori