Rome: As many as 10 million Italians have had their phone conversations bugged, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said, as he tried to drum up support for a controversial bill to limit wiretaps.
In a video message, Berlusconi complained of Italy's culture of wiretapping which he described as "without equal in the world".
Citing statistics that 150,000 telephones in the country had been tapped, Berlusconi argued that, if each phone had been used to call 50 different people, 7.5 million people
could have had their phone calls bugged, and that number could "easily be 10 million".
"The problem is serious: we are all being spied upon," said Berlusconi in the video for Promoters of Liberty, a wing of his Freedom for People party.
Berlusconi railed against "the systematic abuse of wiretapping and the publication (of the results) in newspapers and on television."
Berlusconi earlier this month won a vote in the Italian senate on a bill curbing the use of wiretaps. Critics of the bill have labelled it a "gagging law", and said its true aim is to shield Berlusconi from embarrassment.
In the video message, Berlusconi said he was prepared to amend the bill -- which must still pass through the lower house -- but would not delay it indefinitely.
First Published: Sunday, June 20, 2010, 09:04