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OSCE: Raid on Wprost offices 'unacceptable'

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 20.06.2014 08:36
OSCE “concerned by attempts to force journalists to reveal sources” during a raid on an editorial office by internal security officers in attempt to seize evidence in the 'tape affair' scandal.

Violent struggle as WBW officers attempt to seize paltop from Wprost editor-in-chief, Wednesday night: photo - PAP/Jacek Pietruszka

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović issued a statement on Thursday following the raid by the Internal Security Agency (ABW) at the Wprost magazine editorial offices, expressing “concern” at the demand that the editor-in-chief reveal sources and hand over evidence in a scandal which has rocked Poland's political establishment and may cause early elections.

“These kinds of investigation methods are unacceptable as they have a chilling effect on investigative journalism and could stifle media freedom,” Mijatović said, following what appeared to be a violent struggle (see video) on Wednesday night between officers and editor-in-chief Sylwester Latkowski, as the agency attempted to seize a laptop and other materials.

“I call on the authorities to act in strict compliance with media freedom commitments. Journalists’ rights to protect their confidential sources must be safeguarded and media’s pivotal role to any democracy must be ensured,” the OSCE statement says, noting that no court order had been issued previous to the raid.

Prosecutors are currently investigating who secretly taped Poland's central banker and interior minister discussing measures the National Bank of Poland could take ahead of 2015 elections which would benefit the ruling Civic Platform party in return for a change of finance minister.

Opponents of Prime Minister Donald Tusk allege that the tapes show political collusion between central banker Marek Belka and the Civic Platform government, though the government claims that the tapes are part of an illegal attempt to overthrow the ruling coalition.

Donald Tusk said on Thursday that he could call a snap election “in weeks” if the “crisis in confidence” in Poland's political establishment continues.

Editor-in-chief of the popular Wprost magazine, Sylwester Latkowski has said he will hand over evidence and tapes to prosecutors on Saturday when his journalists have finished preparing full disclosure of their contents for the next edition of the magazine.

Latkowski said he will not be revealing the source of the materials, however.

Despite the prime minister claiming he knew nothing of the road before it happened on Wednesday night, opposition MP for the Law and Justice (PiS) party Marcin Mastalerek told the TVP broadcaster that Donald Tusk “treats Poland like a banana republic. He will do anything to stay in power”. (pg)

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