06 Aug 2018 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 13 Jul 2017 Poland

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

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner IPI Article 19 AEJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner IPI Article 19 AEJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
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
20 Mar 2018: 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
06 Aug 2018: 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
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