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Italo legal hounds take on ‘Hyenas’

Satirical program accused of breaching politicians' privacy

ROME — The prosecutor’s office in Rome announced on Thursday it was putting under investigation four members of the satirical TV news program “Le Iene” for violating the country’s rigorous privacy laws after they secretly tested politicians for drugs as part of a report that never aired.

The controversy began a week ago when producers for the Italia Uno show “Le Iene” (The Hyenas) announced they intended to broadcast on Oct. 11 a report revealing that drug use runs rampant in the Italian parliament. The investigative report purported to show that 16 of the 50 parliamentarians they spoke to tested positive for drugs using a drug-detection device they ordered off the Internet.

Despite the dubious investigative methods employed and the show’s penchant for parody and laughs, the revelation kicked up a major fuss among politicians on both sides claiming the report amounted to a flagrant violation of privacy. The Privacy Authority stepped in and demanded Mediaset’s Italia Uno pull the show from its scheduled slot.

Prosecutors believe the four members — three members of the satirical news troupe and a fourth person who commissioned the story — did breach the politicians’ privacy.

The producers of the show have contended from the outset that they did not intend to reveal the identities of the politicians, but instead planned to cast them in shadow with a distorted voice. On Tuesday, magistrates seized the program’s materials and tapes for the show, the Italian media reported.

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