European Federation of Journalists

Poland: Spanish journalist held in pre-trial detention for six months despite “lack of evidence”

Credit: social media Pablo González

A Polish court extended the pre-trial detention of Spanish journalist Pablo González for the second time on 23 August, meaning he will spend up to a further 3 months in jail. The journalist, who was covering the humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Ukrainian border, was arrested on 28 February in the south-western city of Rzeswów, accused of being “an agent of Russian intelligence”. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) and their Spanish affiliates urge the authorities to release González without further delay, and ensure he will receive a fair trial.

“The Polish court has ordered González to be remanded in custody due to a lack of evidence. It is a strategy to bend his will and force him to accept false accusations”, says his Spanish lawyer Gonzalo Boye. The journalist, who holds Spanish and Russian nationality, was arrested by agents of the Polish Security Service (ABW) on the grounds of “carrying out actions against the Polish state”.

González has been held incommunicado for six months. His family and friends denounce the fact that they receive very limited news from him. His family has requested authorisation to visit him in prison, but to date no official reply has been received, and no phone contact has been allowed during the past six months.

On 30 July, a request was submitted to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) to investigate his arbitrary detention.

González, who specialises in the post-Soviet world, is a regular contributor to the Spanish daily Público and was reporting on the humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Ukrainian border for several Spanish media outlets, including La Sexta.

“The extension of his pre-trial detention and the lack of legal grounds for his arrest are an affront to freedom of expression in a country of the European Union”, said Miguel Ángel Noceda, President of the Federation of Spanish Journalists’ Associations (FAPE).

The Federation of Citizen’s Services of Comissiones Obreras (FSC-CCOO) has condemned the Polish government’s secrecy and the lack of information about the case. “A country that does not guarantee freedom of the press and the safety of journalists cannot be considered a true democracy”, the union said in a statement.

Agustín Yaguel, Secretary General of The Federation of Journalists’ Trade unions (FeSP) said: “González’s rights should be respected and he should be given a fair trial without further delay. It is necessary to know the prosecution’s arguments for such a serious accusation and he should be provisionally released, with the precautionary measures that the court deems necessary”.

The Association of Journalists in Spain (UGT) condemned the conditions under which González is being held, “without the legal assistance or access to his family, in a violation of his human rights, which is unacceptable in a so-called democratic country”.

In a joint statement The IFJ and EFJ are renewing our call on the Polish government to drop all charges against our colleague and release him without further delay. It is unacceptable for a member state of the European Union to detain a journalist in such an arbitrary manner. It is an attack on media freedom and democracy”.