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'Gomorra' writer hits back after Salvini threat to lift protection

© AFP/File | Italian journalist Roberto Saviano has been very critical of the far-right League party and its anti-immigrant policies

ROME (AFP) - 

Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who lives under armed guard since publishing his mafia best-seller "Gomorra" in 2006, lashed out Friday at the country's new far-right foreign minister for threatening to lift his police protection.

Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigration League party on Thursday said there was a need for the relevant authorities "to evaluate whether there is still a risk" to Saviano's life from figures in the criminal underworld who made death threats against him over the book.

"It seems to me that he spends a lot of time abroad," Salvini told a radio station, adding it was necessary to examine "how the Italian people's money is being spent".

His remarks drew a blunt response from Saviano, who has been very critical of Salvini's populist party and its anti-immigrant policies.

"Idiot," he said in a video posted on his Facebook page, saying he was "happy to be one of his enemies".

The 38-year-old writer on Friday also denounced the "foul" atmosphere in Italy since the new populist government took office on May 31, warning that anyone could be targeted in an interview with the Corriere Della Sera newspaper.

"If Matteo Salvini wants to vent his worst impulses against me and the immigrants, anyone who thinks they are safe is wrong. Yesterday it was the immigrants, today it's me and tomorrow, it'll be you," he said.

Salvini's latest controversial remarks followed hot on the heels of another earlier crisis sparked by his refusal to offer safe harbour to a boat carrying 630 migrants who had been rescued off the coast of Libya.

"We have an interior minister who, rather than protecting citizens, wants to put them in danger," said Pier Luigi Bersani, one of the leaders of the leftwing Democratic and Progressive Movement (MDP).

© 2018 AFP