The proceedings were prompted by the publication of a book entitled “Macierewicz and his Secrets” in June 2017 in which Piatek shed light on then defence minister Antoni Macierewicz’s alleged links with the Russian special services.
If Macierewicz regarded the book as defamatory, he could have brought civil or criminal proceedings against Piatek, but instead he chose to bring a complaint before a military court accusing him of “terrorism.”
RSF and nine other NGOs and associations sent a joint letter to the defence minister in July 2017 urging him to withdraw the complaint, which was unprecedented in nature and was exposing this journalist to the possibility of a three-year jail sentence.
The case was assigned to the Warsaw prosecutor’s office, which finally decided on 15 March that the case was not a matter for the criminal courts and that, if the now former minister believed he was defamed, he should bring a civil lawsuit against Piatek.
“We welcome this decision, which renders justice to an investigative reporter who was being prosecuted just for doing his job to provide information,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk.
“The absurdity of the proceedings against Tomasz Piatek is underscored by the fact that the prosecutor’s office – which is now controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party as a result of the changes to the Polish justice system – has recognized that the charges were nonsensical and baseless.”
RSF has been condemning violations of press freedom and pluralism in Poland for the past two years, since shortly after the ultra-conservative Law and Justice party formed a government in November 2015 and set about enacting a series of very controversial reforms.
Poland is ranked 54th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, seven places lower than in the 2016 index, in which it suffered a spectacular 29-place fall.