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Italian police launch hate-speech crackdown

'Stormfront elements targeted Saviano, Lampedusa mayor'

14 November, 14:16
Italian police launch hate-speech crackdown (ANSA) - Rome, November 14 - Police on Thursday said they arrested a heavily armed man and searched the property of 35 people in an effort to identify members of a neo-Nazi Web forum with ties to an older site already shut down by authorities. The 51-year-old suspect was arrested in the northern city of Mantua and was charged with inciting racial hatred and illegal possession of firearms, including two rifles, a hand-grenade casing and seven bayonets. Police said he also had a Swastika flag. The rest searched came up in probes linked to an anti-Semitic organization known as Stormfront, one of the Web's most notorious hate sites, whose Italian version was shut down last year for regularly posting hate speech and white supremacist propaganda.

In April, four of its Italian members were sentenced to terms ranging from 30 months to three years for "promoting and directing a group whose purpose was the instigation to ethnic, religious and racial discrimination and violence".

The latest crackdown took place in 22 Italian provinces, including Rome and Milan. Police said the suspects were wanted in association with hateful posts directed against a number of public figures, including acclaimed organized-crime writer Roberto Saviano and the mayor of Lampedusa, the island off the coast of Italy that annually draws tens of thousands of seaborne migrants due to its proximity to Africa.

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