Rome

Grillo bans comments to blog entry on free speech

'To protect users from prosecution for vilifying president'

Grillo bans comments to blog entry on free speech

Rome, May 15 - Beppe Grillo, leader of the Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, banned comments to his blog post due to a southern Italian probe against 22 people accused of insulting the Italian president. "Who can be safe from prosecution for criticising the president of the republic? So to defend oneself, the only way is to not write anything anymore. Lips sealed. Fingers blocked on the keyboard. Comments blacked out," the comedian-turned-politician poste on his blog, his main soapbox. Grillo protested in his blog that "Twenty-two people are under investigation for 'offending the honour and prestige of the president of the republic'" by the prosecutor's office in Nocera, a town south of Naples, "essentially...for 'vilification', a term that can include any opinion, criticism, or assessment judged offensive". Grillo cited his own post from May 31, 2012, inviting Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to abolish the crime, which carries a sentence of one to five years in jail. He also wrote that the law originally enshrined respect for Italy's monarch under Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime. "This post, in order to avoid legal complaints filed against anyone, will be, for the first time in the history of the blog, without the option to comment. In the future, perhaps, it will become the rule for the entire Web in Italy," Grillo said.

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