Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's private life was back in the spotlight on Monday when a leading news group posted audio tapes and transcripts of what it said were conversations with a female escort.
In a statement, Berlusconi's lawyer Niccolo Ghedini dismissed the recordings as "totally unlikely and a product of the imagination," saying it was illegal to publish them.
The new twist in the saga that has riveted many Italians for months appeared to end a short break from media scrutiny of his private life while Berlusconi basked in the success of this month's G8 summit.
La Repubblica daily and L'Espresso weekly Web sites posted tapes of conversations purportedly between Berlusconi and Patrizia D'Addario, an escort who says she and others were paid to attend parties at Berlusconi's residence in Rome. Berlusconi has not denied that the woman went to his home but has said he did not know she was an escort.
One conversation posted on the websites was between D'Addario and Giampaolo Tarantini, a southern Italian businessman who is under investigation by magistrates on suspicion of corruption and abetting prostitution.