NGOs: libel must not be criminalized in Romania

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Press freedom groups from around the world have urged Romanian leaders not to reinstate a law that makes libel and insult criminal offenses.

The appeal Tuesday to Prime Minister Victor Ponta and the speakers of both chambers of Parliament came after lawmakers voted last week for the change.

Romania decriminalized both libel and insult in 2006 as it reformed its laws to join the EU.

"Criminalization of insult and libel ... works to intimidate voices who criticize the structures of power in society and expose corruption, abuse and other wrongdoings," said the letter, signed by 35 organizations including Reporters Without Borders and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

President Traian Basescu previously has rejected attempts to criminalize libel, but it's not clear if he will veto the law.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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