Italy's Berlusconi asks photographers to leave him alone


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 12, 2009 at 1:13 PM EDT

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has urged photographers to respect his privacy and let him have "a bit of peace", right-wing Italian daily Il Giornale said Wednesday.

Respect for privacy "doesn't exist any more, not for anyone," Berlusconi told the newspaper, owned by his family's media empire, in an interview.

"Frankly, I deserve to be left in peace a bit. That's enough violations of privacy."

Berlusconi was particularly angered by the fact that photographers had again tried to take photos from a vantage point overlooking his luxury villa in Sardinia during a birthday party for one of his daughters on Monday night.

Three photographers who tried to take photographs were arrested and had been forced to hand over the memory cards containing their pictures, the Italian press reported.

His comments follow a deluge of reports since May on the prime minister's private life.

They include speculation over his relationship with a teenage model; the publication of pictures of topless women and a naked man at his Sardinian villa; and a call girl's allegations that she slept with him.

It was the 72-year-old premier's attendance at the 18th birthday party of aspiring model Noemi Letizia that prompted his second wife Veronica Lario to begin divorce proceedings.

Berlusconi has denied having had a romantic relationship with the teenager.

Referring to the recent articles and photographs, the prime minister has attacked what he described as an "obscene, libellous" campaign that cast Italy in a bad light and harmed the interests of the Italian people.

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