Thousands to march in Rome to voice against Berlusconi's press clampdown

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London, Oct 3 (ANI): Thousands are expected to take to the streets of Rome today to defend press freedom and target Silvio Berlusconi for wanting to muzzle critical media voices.

Dario Fo, the Nobel prize-winning playwright, and Roberto Saviano, the author of the Mafia exposé Gomorrah, will lead the demonstration.

The protest comes at the end of a burlesque summer marked by a series of scandals involving the 73-year-old prime minister, accused of consorting with "minors" and having organised regular orgies in his private residences in Rome and Sardinia.

By way of response, Berlusconi has sued newspapers in Italy, France and Spain for their coverage of the affair, a move which many critics deem to be intimidatory, reports The Times.

Critics claim that their right to voice opinions against the Italian premier is being dangerously undermined in print and, in particular, on television, which is dominated by Berlusconi's media empire.

Berlusconi said in a recent interview: "This protest is a farce, which makes us look bad in the eyes of other countries. I believe this anti-Italianism at the core of many political positions and certain newspapers really does damage to the country."

Roberto Natale, the president of the National Press Federation, which is organising the event, responded: "It will not be a farce but a serious demonstration.

"We notice a heavy cloud hanging over [the communication of] information: from the campaign against L'Avvenire to the Prime Minister's appeal to businesses because they are not investing in advertising in his disastrous newspapers."

The editor of L'Avvenire newspaper was forced to resign after a campaign of character assassination by a Berlusconi-friendly editor. (ANI)

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