The Roman Press Association together with city officials held a demonstration in Piazza del Campidoglio 8 March demanding the release of La Repubblica correspondent Daniele Mastrogiacomo who was taken hostage over the weekend by Talebani militants in the Helmand region of southern Afghanistan.

Speakers included Afghan embassy first secretary Princess Fatima Zaher, La Repubblica editor Ezio Mauro and Rosa Calipari, the widow of secret service agent Nicola Calipari who was killed last year in Iraq during the rescue of kidnapped journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

Also present were region of Lazio president Pier Marrazzo and mayor Walter Veltroni who called attention to the growing number of journalists killed and imprisoned around the world.

According Reporters Without Borders, an international organisation of journalists for the defense of free speech, 2006 was a record-setting year for violence against journalists with over 113 journalists and media workers killed and 927 imprisoned or kidnapped. 2007 looks set to be an even deadlier year for reporters with 17 killed and 136 imprisoned in just over two months.