The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Polish Journalists Association (SDP) have welcomed the acquittal of two journalists, Jan Pawlicki and Tomasz Gzell who were arrested on 20 November during the coverage of a post-election demonstration in Warsaw.
According to the EFJ affiliate, SDP, the police arrested TV reporter for TV Republika, Jan Pawlicki and the press photographer Tomasz Gzell of Polish Press Agency, in a demonstration where a group of activists entered and occupied the State Electoral Commission on 20 November.
During the arrest, the journalists showed their press cards proving that they were not among the occupiers but there to cover the event. Despite that, they were arrested and detained for more than 24 hours in custody. During the detention, the families and lawyers of the two journalists were not allowed to see them.
“We are shocked by the arrest of the two journalists who were simply performing their duties as journalists.” said SDP.
During the hearnig on 5 December in which the SDP representative was present, the police officers admitted that the journalists had shown their press cards and stated they were there to cover the event as journalists.
After examining the evidence provided by the police and other witnesses, the judge ruled that the journalists were innococent saying that “the event is an unfortunate misunderstanding” without further explanation.
“Although we welcome the release of the two journalists, we are not completely satisfied with the explanation provided by the police and the judge.” said Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary.
“We hope that the ‘misunderstanding’ will not happen again. ” emphasised Gutiérrez. “We would like to remind the authorities that they shall respect the journalists’ rights to freedom of expression and information.”