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Italians march to defend press freedoms

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Italians march to defend press freedoms

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Organisers say 300,000 people marched in Rome on Saturday to protest against the domination of Italian media by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Critics say in his third term in office he has become less tolerant of criticism, and has sought to quash dissent. One of the biggest cheers of the demonstration was reserved for Roberto Saviano, who has put his life at risk for exposing the Camorra’s mafia activities: “Here political police don’t go around closing newspapers or arresting reporters, but we’re fighting for a freedom of the press that allows journalists to work in peace without fear. What’s happened in the last few days shows an ancient truth; that truth and power never match, thanks.” As PM Berlusconi controls the three free-to-air state media networks, and he owns three others, along with the country’s biggest publisher plus a weekly news magazine. His brother controls a daily paper. “It’s not possible that at the highest institutional level the head of government can tell lies all the time,” said a protestor dressed as Pinnochio. Berlusconi is currently trying to sue a number of foreign publications for their reporting of his latest scandal, involving call girls. He claims he is the victim of a smear campaign.