Rome

Napolitano denounces 'blackmail' wiretap article

Panorama claims president rapped Berlusconi, Di Pietro, judges

Napolitano denounces 'blackmail' wiretap article

(ANSA) - Rome, August 30 - Italian president Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday condemned this week's cover article of the Italian weekly magazine Panorama as a "murky destabilizing maneuver". The story - which features the headline Blackmail the President over the face of Napolitano - attempts to reconstruct a telephone call between the president and ex-interior minister Nicola Mancino based on wiretaps carried out for prosecutors in Palermo in a probe into alleged negotiations with Cosa Nostra to stop an early 1990s bombing campaign. The magazine claims the president made searing comments critical of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, ex-graftbuster and centrist opposition leader Antonio Di Pietro, and prosecutors in Palermo. Panorama is part of Berlusconi's media empire. "The claim - from wherever it may come - that one can 'blackmail' the head of state is 'laughable'," read a statement from the president's office in Rome, which also declared an intention to forcefully repel "every murky destabilizing maneuver". "To the many manipulations, one adds real falsehoods in this way," the note said, referring to the article's content. The statement added, "The 'campaign of insinuation and suspicion'" against Napolitano "has reached a new pinnacle". Journalistic and judicial authorities rallied to the president's defense Thursday. The presidential committee of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM), the judiciary's self-governing body, expressed "full solidarity with the President of the Republic, who has for some time been subject to attacks that are as unfounded as they are instrumental". The secretary of the journalists' union FNSI Franco Siddi also expressed solidarity and condemned the article for attempting to "blackmail the highest office of the State". Siddi wrote, "(Reconstruction) is something different than an activity of (furnishing) full and correct information." The scandal also prompted a centre-right political leader to cry once more for tighter legal action on wiretapping and investigation leaks - a controversial rallying point of the former Berlusconi administration. "Wiretaps were also executed and used in a savage way against Berlusconi," said the House whip for Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom Party (PDL), Fabrizio Cicchitto, who also expressed solidarity with Napolitano.

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