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Evidence missing, claims of inciting xenophobia as Polish TV exposé probed: report

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 21.12.2018 13:20
A private Polish television station has failed to provide prosecutors with the full original recording on the basis of which it produced a disputed exposé being probed by law enforcers, according to a report.

American-owned private Polish television broadcaster TVN has told investigators it has lost some of the original footage of the infamous “Hitler birthday party” event it aired early this year, the wiadomosci.wp.pl news website has reported.

When prosecutors approached the station to provide the full original unedited footage from the event, TVN first told investigators that it could not find the recordings and then said that some of the material had gone missing, according to wiadomosci.wp.pl.

Meanwhile, prosecutors believe that the TVN cameraman who filmed the alleged celebrations provoked participants into xenophobic behaviour and violence, wiadomosci.wp.pl said.

The website referred to documents that it said prosecutors have sent to the Polish Journalists Association’s Press Freedom Monitoring Centre. The website said the documents showed that some of the material requested by investigators has been lost by the broadcaster.

It cited prosecutors as saying that they were in possession of only “fragments of the several-hour-long meeting,” a part of which was later aired in an edited version by TVN.

The website quoted prosecutors as saying that “the entire ‘Hitler birthday party’ recording … would undoubtedly constitute objective and very valuable evidence” in the case.

Allegations of inciting xenophobia, violence

The website also cited prosecutors as alleging that the TVN cameraman provoked other people to make “xenophobic and racist” statements “and even [provoked them] into violence."

According to wiadomosci.wp.pl, a witness has claimed that the TVN cameraman incited participants into “organising some kind of event” against refugees.

The website also cited a note from prosecutors published by the wpolityce.pl website, according to which alcohol was flowing during the event, with one participant alleging he was being fed alcohol “on purpose.”


TVN in January aired footage that appeared to show a group of neo-Nazis meeting in a forest in southern Poland and glorifying fascism while celebrating the anniversary of Hitler's birth.

The broadcaster said at the time that the footage was a result of its investigation into nationalist groups in Poland and included recordings of the Pride and Modernity organisation’s celebrations of Adolf Hitler’s birth anniversary in May 2017.

The revelations caused outrage and condemnation in Poland, a country that suffered massive damage after being invaded by Nazi Germany in World War II.

The alleged celebrations filmed by TVN featured Nazi German flags, an altar to the Nazi German leader, and the “Sieg Heil” Hitler salute.

Both the ruling conservatives and Polish opposition called for the Pride and Modernity organisation to be delegalised.

Staged event?

But conservative news website wpolityce.pl suggested last month that the infamous celebration was a staged event and “a sham for which its organiser was paid PLN 20,000” [EUR 4,500, USD 5,300].

Stanisław Żaryn, a spokesman for Poland's security services chief, said on November 8 that testimony by a man detained in the probe contained a claim that the event dubbed by the media “the Hitler birthday party” was staged after it was “commissioned” by people unknown to him.

Justice Minister and Prosecutor-General Zbigniew Ziobro told reporters that same day that prosecutors were probing whether someone had paid for the “Hitler birthday party” to be held, and that they were also investigating how a TVN journalist had been invited to the event.

Meanwhile, broadcaster TVN denied paying money to the man detained in the probe “or anyone who participated in organising the Adolf Hitler birthday party."

The broadcaster, which is controlled by US company Discovery, suggested the detained man was lying. It also said it was considering taking legal steps against anyone defaming the station.

The US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to express her “deep concern” over the reaction of Polish authorities to the disputed exposé aired by TVN.

Michał Dworczyk, head of the Polish Prime Minister's Office, said in late November that law enforcers were being guided exclusively by the national interest as they probed the case.

'Nazi salute'

TVN said in a statement last month that “the authors of the report acted in accordance with the standards of investigative journalism.”

The broadcaster also protested after it said a camera operator was visited at home by agents with Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) and called for questioning amid allegations of spreading Nazi propaganda, the niezalezna.pl website reported at the time.

The cameraman, Piotr Wacowski, “was caught in photographs against the backdrop of Nazi symbols and performing a Nazi salute” when shooting the footage last year, according to niezalezna.pl.


Source: wiadomosci.wp.pl, wpolityce.pl, niezalezna.pl

tags: TVN
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