European Federation of Journalists

Poland: Spanish journalist Pablo González in custody for 16 months with no trial in sight

Credits: Pablo González's Twitter account @PabVis.

Spanish freelance reporter Pablo González, accused of spying for Russia, has been in pre-trial detention in Poland for more than 16 months without any evidence of the allegations against him being made public. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EJF), together with their Spanish affiliates and organisations that support this journalist, urge the Polish authorities to release González and ensure he receives a fair trial.

Organisations and groups supporting Spanish journalist Pablo González gathered at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on 4 July to denounce his detention. This is an unprecedented case; González is the only journalist imprisoned in an EU Member State.

“I hope that the European authorities will put pressure on the Polish authorities to ensure that Pablo has a fair trial. We ask for his pre-trial detention not to be extended beyond what is strictly necessary, and that he be allowed to receive regular visits and phone calls,” said his wife, Oihana Goiriena, who detailed the conditions to which he was subjected. “Pablo is considered a dangerous prisoner, so each day he spends 23 hours isolated in his cell and is only allowed to go out into the courtyard for one hour”.

The journalist’s lawyers have appealed the court’s five decisions to extend his pre-trial detention every three months. As of today, there is no trial date in sight, nor has any evidence been made public to justify his imprisonment.

In the early hours of 28 February 2022, Gonzalez was arrested by officers of the Polish Security Service (ABW) he reported on the humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Ukrainian border following the Russian invasion. Specialising in the post-Soviet world, the journalist was a regular contributor to the Spanish daily Público and television channel La Sexta.

The IFJ, the EFJ and their Spanish affiliates have reiterated their call for the journalist’s release. The federations stated: “It is unacceptable for an EU member state to detain a journalist in such an arbitrary manner. Not only are Pablo González’s fundamental rights as a citizen and as a journalist being violated, but so is the freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.”

Miguel Ángel Noceda, president of the Federation of Spanish Journalists’ Associations, FAPE, said: “We once again call on the Polish authorities to resolve the situation with the maximum legal guarantees in favour of the Spanish journalist after such a long time without clarification. We believe that this is an ethical requirement based on the principle of freedom of expression”.

The UGT Journalists’ Association has demanded the immediate release of the journalist and the resolution of the judicial process. “The deprivation of liberty and incommunicado detention in which our colleague is being held in an EU member state is unacceptable.”

Agustín Yanel, secretary general of the Federation of Journalists’ Trade Unions, FeSP, said, “Every day that González remains in prison is an attack by the Polish government on freedom of information, international law and human rights. The Spanish government must demand his immediate release and a fair trial. The EU must intervene.”

The Federation of Citizen’s Services of Comissiones Obreras FSC-CCOO stressed: “it is unacceptable that an EU member state should detain a journalist in an arbitrary manner and without democratic guarantees. We urge both the Spanish state and the EU to do everything in their power to put an end once and for all to this injustice […] A state that does not guarantee freedom of the press and the safety of journalists cannot be considered a true democracy”.

On 8 March 2022, the IFJ and the EFJ co-submitted an alert to the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalists, which to date has received no response from the Polish authorities.