News

November 21, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Journalists held while covering political protest


Update - 5/12/2014

TV Republika reporter Jan Pawlicki and Polish Press Agency photographer Tomasz Gzell were acquitted during the third hearing today in their trial on charges of defying orders to leave the State Electoral Commission headquarters when police were evicting demonstrators.

The judge ruled that they were in the building to cover the protest and not as activists, and that the police were wrong to have arrested them. The two journalists have said they will file a complaint against the police.

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Update – 1/12/2014

On 26 November, the judge heard evidence from the manager of the building where the demonstration took place, as well as from a security guard and a police officer. All concurred that the two journalists, Jan Pawlicki and Tomasz Gzell, were not among the occupiers of the State Electoral Commission headquarters and were merely covering the demonstration as reporters.

The police officer admitted that he prevented some people from leaving the meeting room. He said he did not know who had given the order to keep people inside the room. He also told the court that the journalists had shown their press cards and stated clearly that they worked for the media.

At the next hearing, due on 5 December, the head of the Office of the President*, Jack Michalowski, and the secretary of the electoral commission, Kazimierz Czaplicki, will give evidence. The court will then pronounce its verdict.

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Update - 24/11/2014

Jan Pawlicki and Tomasz Gzell were released on the evening of 21 November after an initial hearing earlier in the evening. Both pleaded not guilty. Their trial will resume on 26 November when evidence from witnesses will be heard. The police accuse them of not leaving the building when asked.

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Arrests occurred during a post-election demonstration.

Following local elections on 16 November whose results remain unknown because of vote-count problems, a group of activists entered State Electoral Commission headquarters.

The demonstrators demanded the resignations of commission members and the scheduling of new elections.

Police ejected the protesters. In the process, journalist Jan Pawlicki of TV Republika and his colleague, photojournalist Tomasz Gzell of Polish Press Agency were arrested as they covered the events. The journalists showed their press cards, but police said that the two didn’t heed orders to leave the building.

Michal Rachoń, another TV Republika journalist, said that more than 24 hours after the journalists’ arrests their families and lawyers have been given no information. The lawyer representing Jan Pawlicki has not been allowed to see his client.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrests and detentions of the journalists and demands their immediate release.

*The electoral commission works inside the Office of the President