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Poland2 September 2005

Journalist faces prison for refusing to reveal sources

Reporters Without Borders condemned an order made against investigative journalist Maciej Mikolajczyk, of the satirical weekly Nie, to hand over his computer hard disk to the courts by 5 September.

Mikolajczyk was summoned to the Warsaw prosecutor’s office on 31 August 2005 and told by prosecutor Beata Kaszewska to produce the disk or risk a prison sentence of three months to five years, under Article 239.1 of the Polish criminal code.

The disk is wanted in connection with a judicial investigation into a complaint by European Member of Parliament Bogdan Golik, of the Polish people’s party Samoobrona, for violation of confidentiality of correspondence between him and a journalist on local weekly newspaper Panorama Leszczynska, Rafal Makowski.

Mikolajczyk disclosed the contents of the letters in an article carried by Nie in December 2004 that suggested that Golik was regularly paying Rafal Makowski to write favourable articles about him.

"This case is full of things to object to: first of all the principle since we strongly defend the right to protect journalistic sources, but in addition to this the situation is alarmingly absurd," said Reporters Without Borders.

Police went to the journalist’s home on 30 June 2005 and, citing a 23 June ruling by Prosecutor Kaszewska, ordered Mikolajczyk to give them his computer hard disk. When he refused, police put the disk into cardboard box that they sealed and left there.

Since the disk contained information and unpublished material including the Nie correspondent’s contacts, Mikolajczyk has been deprived of the means to continue his journalistic work.

"Maciej Mikolajczyk has been unable to work for the past few months because his hard disk has been put under seal.. at his own home! We are extremely concerned about the situation, because despite our intervention with the Polish justice system at the beginning of August and the help of the Polish state mediator, the situation has only worsened," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Mikolajczyk has appealed against the ruling by the prosecutor’s office.

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