The defamation conviction in Italy of the operator of a US-hosted blog has sent ripples of alarm through the global blogging community, raising fears over future censorship of blogsites in Italy and other countries.
In a sharply worded statement, the Paris-based press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders said it seemed that the blogger Roberto Mancini "is being punished for his bad language and not because he posted false information, which is unacceptable". It added that Mr Mancini was also being held responsible for comments posted by readers, "a decision which goes against European legal jurisprudence".
Mr Mancini set up his blog Il Bolscevico Stanco (The Weary Bolshevik) in 2005, dealing with events in the Valle d'Aosta region in northern Italy. Using the pseudonym of General Sukhov, he wrote various articles attacking local figures in crude and sarcastic terms. Four people, including two journalists, had filed complaints for defamation, and Mr Mancini was ordered to pay $16,900 (£9,300) in fines and damages.
The General Sukhov columns were "certainly written in an extreme style", the press watchdog group said, "but the complainants were not able to show they were untrue".Reuse content