Polish Defence Minister Seeks Criminal Charges against Journalist for 'Coercion', 'Insult' over Exposé of Associates' Contacts

Update: 06 Aug 2018 Resolved
Year 13 Jul 2017 Country Poland Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner IPI , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
13 Jul 2017 Poland Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State IPI , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 2

The military department of Poland’s National Prosecutor's Office confirmed it received a request from the defence ministry to investigate Gazeta Wyborcza journalist Tomasz Piątek for using “violence or illegal threats” and “public insults” against a “constitutional authority of the Republic of Poland” over Piątek’s book “Macierewicz and his secrets”, which focuses on Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz. The book, which was published in late June 2017, examines Macierewicz’s network of aides, collaborators and political associates. It accuses many of them of alleged contacts, both political and financial, with Russian entities close to the Kremlin, Russia’s military intelligence agency and the “Solntsevo” international criminal organisation. The ministry reportedly cited three Criminal Code provisions in seeking charges. Art. 244 prevents use of violence or an illegal threat to coerce a public official to undertake or abstain from legal official activity. It is punishable by up to three years in prison. Art. 226 imposes a fine or up to two years of imprisonment for publicly insulting or humiliating a constitutional authority of the Republic of Poland. Art. 231a extends to public officials who are unlawfully attacked because of their position the same legal protection that they would enjoy if attacked during or in connection with the performance of their public duties.

Progress On 19 March 2018, Poland’s Prosecutor’s office announced that it had decided not to pursue a criminal case against Tomasz Piątek who had been accused by the Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz of defaming a constitutional organ (ie., the Minister). The Prosecutor’s spokesman said that Piątek’s book had not given grounds for such a case to be pursued by the Office and noted that it was more a case of defamation which could be pursued in a civil court. Article published by Gazeta Wyborcza: " 'Macierewicz i jego tajemnice'. Nie będzie śledztwa prokuratury w sprawie książki Tomasza Piątka'

Resolved On 6 August 2018, considering the decision of the prosecutor’s office to drop the charges against Tomasz Piatek, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ‘resolved’, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

Follow-ups

03 Aug 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative concerned about complaint filed against journalist by Poland’s Defence Ministry

CONTACT US

Follow us   

Follow-ups to alerts Follow-ups to alerts

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
Twitter feed Twitter feed
Thematic factsheets Thematic factsheets



Thematic factsheets Thematic factsheets



Partners Partners

CONTACT US

Follow us