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ROME, June 11 Italys left-leaning La Repubblica daily on Friday ran an all-white front page to protest a bill curbing police wiretaps and setting hefty fines on media for publishing transcripts of them.

“The muzzling law denies citizens the right to be informed,” reads a message, styled as a yellow Post-It note, on the otherwise blank space under the La Repubblica banner.

Slamming the bill approved by the Senate on Thursday as “violence” against democracy, La Repubblica editor-in-chief Ezio Mauro wrote “The wiretap law is in reality a law on freedom, the freedom to find evidence of crimes through the procedures of all civilised countries.” He said “The gagging law decides for us, and decides according to the wishes of the government, what we should know, what we can write.” The Turin daily La Stampa ran a similar if less splashy protest, leaving two regular features blank, including one at the foot of the front page.

One of the bills provisions — heavily criticised by legal and police authorities — is the requirement that a three-judge panel approve successive three-day extensions to an initial 75-day warrant for wiretaps.

The bill also calls for fines of up to 450,000 euros ($545,000) for the publication of transcripts of wiretaps in the media.

The measure exempts mafia and terrorism investigations from the restrictions.—AFP