Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right La Liga, announced on Thursday that he has filed a claim of defamation against the writer Roberto Saviano, a virulent critic of the minister.
The tension between the two men has risen since the new minister threatened to suspend the police protection that the writer enjoys since facing death threats from the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia, after the publication of Gomorra in 2006.
“I filed a complaint against Saviano, as promised. I accept all the criticism, but I do not allow anyone to say that I have helped the mafia, [against whom] I fight with all my strength, or that I’m happy about the death of a child. Too much is too much, kisses,” wrote Salvini on Twitter.
“The Minister of Mala Vita [“the bad life”, one of the nicknames given to the mafia] decided to make a complaint (…). I will not stop at a power that is afraid of critical voices. In court, Salvini will be called to tell the truth, a new experience for him,” responded Saviano.
While the political opposition to the populist government in place since June seems largely silenced – the Democratic Party by its internal quarrels, the traditional right by its alliance with Mr Salvini’s Liga, and the left by its electoral defeat – Mr Saviano has become a spokesperson for critics of the new Minister of the Interior.
In the media and on social networks, the writer has denounced the harsh migration policy enacted by Mr Salvini.
But the tweet that seems to have made Salvini react on Tuesday, came after the discovery of a woman and a child died at sea. “What pleasure does it give you to see innocent children die at sea? Matteo Salvini, Minister of the Mala Vita, the hatred you have sown will overthrow you,” Saviano wrote.