Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release today of Andrzej Marek, the editor of the regional weekly Wiesci Polickie. The constitutional court finally decided to suspend implementation of his prison sentence for libel and set him free. Reporters Without Borders hails this decision by the authorities and hopes Poland will henceforth behave in a way more conducive to free expression.
16 January 2006
A journalist imprisoned for a press offence in first such case within European Union
Reporters Without Borders condemned as “shameful” the imprisonment on 16 January of Andrzej Marek, editor of the regional weekly Wiesci Polickie in Szczecin in the north-west.
The Polish journalist published an article in February 2001 headlined “Promotion of scheming” in which he exposed a corrupt official in the city of Police. Marek was sentenced in November 2002 then, on appeal, in November 2003, to a three-month prison sentence for defamation, suspended on condition he apologised to the official who had laid the complaint against him.
The journalist refused to apologise and his sentence was suspended after a plea was entered for a presidential pardon in September 2004. This did not succeed and the journalist has now been ordered to serve his time, nearly five years after the event.
“This imprisonment is shameful for a country like Poland, which has just joined the European Union and which is the sole member state to impose prison sentences on journalists for offences of opinion,” said Reporters Without Borders.
“Andrzej Marek should be immediately released. We once again call on President Lech Kaczynski to pardon this journalist who has only done his duty in informing the public,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The organisation made a previous request to the new Polish head of state on 29 December 2005 to grant Marek the pardon he should have had under the previous presidency of Aleksander Kwasniewski.