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European journalists support demonstration for freedom of information in Italy

(IFJ/IFEX) - 2 October 2009 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today called for a broad support to Italian journalists, civil society groups and individuals who will demonstrate in Rome on Saturday to defend press freedom and freedom of information against continuous attacks by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"Enough is enough", said IFJ President Jim Boumelha, who will also take part in the demonstration. "The condition of journalists and media in this country has been threatened for years, but the recent use of Mr. Berlusconi's economic and political power to intimidate journalists and muzzle the media goes simply beyond any acceptable limits of democracy".

Mr. Berlusconi, himself the owner of the major private broadcasters in the country, has a long record of threats to press freedom and independence of the media: a dominant position in private television, political interference in public broadcaster RAI, and attacks on media or journalists who questioned the impact of his private life on public affairs.

Recently, Mr. Berlusconi was also the first head of government who took legal action against various Italian and European media, including La Repubblica, L'Unità, El Pais and le Nouvel Observateur. He claimed millions Euros of damages, alleging "defamatory" articles on his private life published in the media.

He even criticized the European Commission for interfering in national affairs and threatened to block the European Council if Commissioners failed to "control" their spokespersons.

European journalists are proud to be present at this demonstration gathering over 50,000 people and they fully support the IFJ/EFJ affiliate, the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana (FNSI) in its this struggle for press freedom and for an ethical and a free journalism.

The demonstration will take place on 3 October at 3pm on Piazza del Popolo, Rome.

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