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If the mafia gets its way, Italian writer Roberto Saviano has only weeks to live. The Camorra, an Italian mafia group that Saviano denounced in his bestselling book "Gomorra", has ordered him killed before Christmas. Saviano has since announced he is fleeing the country. Join more than 200,000 others, including International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), and sign a "La Repubblica" appeal urging the Italian authorities to take up Saviano's case.

Saviano announced this month in "La Repubblica", a daily newspaper for which he often writes, that he was leaving after spending almost two years under close protection by seven guards. "I shall leave Italy, at least for a period and then we'll see," he said.

He has been the target of repeated death threats from the Camorra since his book exposing their structure and tactics became a huge success - it has sold more than a million copies and has been translated into 42 languages. The film of the book is Italy's official candidate for an Oscar.

The 28-year-old Saviano told "La Repubblica", "I want to go for a walk, enjoy the sun, walk in the rain and see my mother without fear - and without frightening her."

The petition was prompted by an open letter to the paper from Nobel laureates, including Orhan Pamuk and Desmond Tutu, who called on the Italian state to make "every effort to protect Saviano and to defeat the Camorra."

"This is not a mere police case. It's a problem of democracy. Saviano's safe freedom concerns every one of us as citizens," reads the petition.

Sign the appeal here:

Also visit these links:
- Roberto Saviano's website:
- Saviano's announcement in "La Repubblica":
- WiPC:
- Reporters Without Borders:
- "The Guardian":
(Photo of Roberto Saviano courtesy of Salvatore Saviano/AP)

(29 October 2008)

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