Scalzone was born in Terni, Umbria. In 1968 he came to know Franco Piperno, and on 1 March that year he took part in the clashes against Italian police at Valle Giulia. A few days later his vertebral column was seriously injured by a desk thrown from a window by neofascist students, mostly belonging to the Italian Social Movement, that were occupying the faculty of Law of the University La Sapienza in Rome. About the 1968 movement, he said:
What did we want? That everything changed [...] that universities were to be collectively managed, that there was no selection, that the Vietcong won the war, that culture changed, but most importantly that this extraordinary movement, that changed our daily life, could stand up.
With Piperno and Toni Negri, he founded Potere Operaio in 1969. On 7 April 1979 he was arrested, along with Negri, Piperno and others members of the autonomist movement, and accused of planning armed attacks and plotting to overthrow the government. In 1981 he managed to flee first to Denmark, then to Paris, where he remained protected from extradition thanks to the Mitterrand doctrine. Scalzone revealed that his escape was helped by actor and friend Gian Maria Volonté. In 1983 he was sentenced to 16 years' jail, reduced to nine in 1989. While in France, Scalzone worked for a political solution to the "Years of Lead" that could lead to an amnesty to political refugees and prisoners.
A 17 January 2007 ruling of the Court of Milan declared his crimes ("subversive association and member of an armed organization") prescribed. He announced he had come back to Italy to "fight, under new conditions, an old battle".
- "Da Potere Operaio alla fuga in Francia Gli Anni di piombo di Oreste Scalzone". La Repubblica. 17 January 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Balestrini, Nanni (2003). L'orda d'oro: 1968-1977 : la grande ondata rivoluzionaria e creativa ... Feltrinelli.
- "Scalzone: torno in Italia per nuove battaglie". Corriere della Sera. 7 February 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- "La sfida di Scalzone: "Sciopero della fame, estradate anche me"". Corriere della Sera. 26 August 2002. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- "SCALZONE: ' MI FECE SCAPPARE DALL' ITALIA'". La Repubblica. 7 December 1994. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Tardi, Rachele (2009). Imagining Terrorism: The Rhetoric and Representation of Political Violence.
- "Terrorismo, reati prescritti Scalzone può rientrare in Italia". La Repubblica. 17 January 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Ruotolo, Guido (20 December 2010). "C'era un attacco allo Stato, oggi no". La Stampa. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
- Oreste Scalzone blog (in Italian)
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