U.S. markets closed

Italian anti-mafia author Saviano won't be 'intimidated' by Salvini

Roberto Saviano, author of bestseller "Gomorrah" and new film "Piranhas", has Italian police protection because of his anti-mafia writings (AFP Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ)

Berlin (AFP) - Italian anti-mafia author Roberto Saviano said Tuesday he would not allow himself to be "intimidated" by his country's far-right interior minister, who has threatened to revoke his police protection.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini stirred controversy last year by threatening to lift the police watch for Saviano -- one of his most virulent critics -- who has lived under armed guard since publishing his international bestseller "Gomorrah" in 2006.

Speaking at the Berlin film festival where the movie he wrote "Piranhas" premiered, Saviano said he would not be cowed.

"I am staying calm. I continue to do what I do. I will continue to tell what's happening, I will not let myself be intimidated by the threats made systematically by the Italian interior minister," he told reporters.

"You have to understand what's happening right now in Italy. There are some very serious things happening."

Saviano noted that his police protection, while essential, was a serious inconvenience to his life.

"Beyond the question of my personal security, the police escort is not a privilege -- it's a nightmare to have to be escorted," he said.

"There are dozens of journalists under protection in Italy and in Europe. Europe is no longer a safe place for those who tell what is happening."

"La Paranza dei bambini" (Piranhas) by director Claudio Giovannesi about the youth gangs of Naples was based on a book and subsequent screenplay by Saviano, Maurizio Braucci and Claudio Giovannesi.

It is one of 16 films in competition for the Berlinale festival's Golden Bear top prize, to be awarded by jury president Juliette Binoche on Saturday.