Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, who could face prison time, e-mailed a statement to The Associated Press saying their "focus is unchanged" and "remains wholeheartedly with our daughter, her appeal, overturning her wrongful conviction and bringing her home."
"I'd tell them not to ever go back to Italy," Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, a Knox family friend and founder of the Friends of Amanda organization, told AOL News today.
Amanda Knox was a University of Washington student studying in Italy when she was accused of killing Briton Meredith Kercher, her roommate in Perugia, in 2007. Knox, now 23, was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 26 years in prison. She denies any wrongdoing, and her appeals trial is under way.
Her parents are among about 11 people, mostly U.S. and Italian journalists and Italian defense lawyers, who reportedly have either been sued for defamation outright or warned they were being investigated on defamation charges in connection with the Knox case.
Knox herself faces slander charges for saying Italian police were abusive during her 14-hour interrogation following Kercher's stabbing death. Her parents repeated those same statements to a British newspaper in 2008, which is what got them in trouble.
But Curt Knox and Mellas aren't as fortunate as some U.S.-based writers like West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay and novelist/blogger Joe Cottonwood, who received word from reports out of Italy that they were to be sued for writing about the case.
If Americans are sued on criminal libel charges from Italy, they can simply avoid traveling to Italy because they cannot be charged in the U.S. under Italian law.
In Italy, defamation is punishable with a minimum fine of 500 euros and a incarceration of six months to three years.
Knox's parents, however, must stand trial in Italy if they hope to see their daughter again.
Al Tompkins, who teaches ethics at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, said that in the United States, libel is only a civil charge and not easy to prove.
Americans suing others for libel must prove there was reckless disregard for the truth and actual malice -- and they must pay lawyers to handle their cases. In Italy, police and prosecutors can bring criminal libel cases at no cost to them.
"Libel shouldn't be criminal; it should be a civil complaint," Tompkins said. "Using the way it can be used in Italy just serves to inhibit journalists."
Most of the reports of real or threatened lawsuits in the Knox case are believed to be connected to the office of controversial Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, although he has said the charges do not originate with him.
The defamation accusation against Knox's parents was technically brought by the officer in charge of the Perugia murder squad and five of her colleagues involved in the case.
Mignini was the head prosecutor during Knox's 2009 trial and was himself convicted of "abuse of office" in a separate murder investigation and given a suspended 16-month prison sentence. He is appealing that verdict.
AOL News made repeated calls to Mignini's Perugia office today, but there was no answer.
Maria del Grosso, one of Knox's Italian lawyers, had no comment when reached today by AOL News.
One of Knox's other Italian lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, as well as a lawyer for Knox's former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was also convicted of the Kercher murder, and several Italian newspaper and magazine journalists reportedly have either been sued or investigated for defamation.
In the case of Steve Shay, a reporter at the West Seattle Herald, the BBC reported in February 2009 that Mignini had told Italian reporters that he would take legal action against the weekly for a story in which Shay quoted Knox supporters as saying he was "unstable."
Joe Cottonwood, a California-based adult and children's novelist, told AOL News today that an Italian friend of his who was a reporter e-mailed him asking for an opinion on the Knox case. Cottonwood wrote him a reply, which was reprinted as part of an article in an Italian newspaper. Among other things, Cottonwood called Mignini "egotistical." Cottonwood said CBS News called him to say Mignini was going to charge him with defamation.
Ken Robinson, editor of the West Seattle Herald, told AOL News today that neither he nor Shay had ever received any communication from Mignini's office. They heard about the alleged charges from an Italian news agency.
"We've never gotten any paperwork," Robinson said. "I assumed it was saber-rattling on the part of the Italian prosecutor and I ignored it."
Cottonwood said he was "totally shocked" that he would be drawn into the Knox case, especially since he had not been particularly interested in the proceedings and had just written the e-mail as a favor to the friend requesting his opinion.
Cottonwood said he has not received any communication from Italian officials but said he has been told that you can't find out if you've been sued until you hire a lawyer to find out for you.
That was author Douglas Preston's experience when he ran seriously afoul of Mignini when he and an Italian author were researching a book in Florence, Italy, about a serial killer known as the "Monster of Florence."
Mignini's conviction of abuse of office in fact stems from his wiretapping of several journalists and a police official in the Monster of Florence case.
Preston told AOL News today that he was interrogated by Mignini about the case and accused of perjury and being an accessory to a murder. Mignini "suggested" that Preston leave Italy.
Preston said he left the next day with his family and kept the U.S. Embassy on his cell phone while waiting for his flight because he was worried he might be arrested before he could get out.
Preston said his fears were validated shortly after he left when Spezi was accused of being the Monster of Florence himself and thrown in an isolation cell for 23 days. He was freed after an international outcry.
Preston said he had to pay an Italian lawyer 6,000 euros (about $8,000) to find out if charges had been filed against him but still to this day does not know if he will be arrested if he ever returns to Italy.