Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, known as “Matteo the Builder”, wants to see actor Richard Gere interrogated on accusations that he granted financial aid to a caravan of migrants that fled Central America and entered the Italian city of Palermo. The actress agreed to testify against Salvini after President Sergio Mattarella asked that authorities seek the answer from Gere.
Gere allegedly donated €10,000 (£8,635) to an Italian human rights group that offers to house migrants in Italy under threat of deportation. A lawyer working for the Salvini political party said the aid violated Italian law regarding protection of asylum seekers, and that Gere was contacted by the group two weeks ago. This date marks the date the migrants left their Central American country to gain asylum in Italy. Gere’s lawyer denied any knowledge of the Italian lawyer’s claims, and pointed out that Gere hadn’t received any bad press in recent months.
In recent weeks, Salvini and his Italy’s far-right League party have been campaigning against migrants claiming asylum in Italy, and have launched a crackdown on the country’s informal migrants camp outside the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria. “Our streets are now not for catching rats,” he said last month after taking office. “They are for catching migrants who are ‘illegal,’ or ‘removed’ from other countries.”