The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - June 25

A media watchdog group protested the conviction of an Italian blogger for defamation, warning that such a verdict could lead to censorship of blogs in Italy. Blogger Roberto Mancini, 59, was convicted of defamation last month in Aosta, northern Italy, and sentenced to pay $16,900 in fines and damages. Four people, including two journalists, had filed a complaint against him over the content of his blog, which reports on local news in sarcastic and sometimes crude terms.

"It looks like the blogger is being punished for his bad language and not because he posted false information, which is unacceptable,'' Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement Friday. The group also said Mancini wrongly was held responsible for comments posted by readers. Mancini denies writing the incriminating comments, according to his defense lawyer, Caterina Malavenda. She said he would appeal the verdict.

Blogs, short for Web logs, are Web sites that allow one or more people to mix opinion, reporting, gossip and even musings about daily life, usually with links to news stories and other items on the Web. They have become popular in recent years because they are easy to use and give bloggers, many of whom remain anonymous, a relatively wide freedom of expression and a potentially wide audience.

In Italy, explanations of rulings generally are made public weeks after the ruling is issued, and the grounds for the verdict against Mancini have not yet been released.