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Poland30 December 2005

New president urged to pardon journalist on the verge of being imprisoned

Reporters Without Borders wrote to Poland’s new president, Lech Kaczynski, asking him to prevent Andrzej Marek, the editor of the regional weekly Wiesci Polickie, from going to prison on 16 January by granting him a new presidential pardon.

Sentenced on 22 June 2004 to three months in prison for libel, Marek had received a pardon on 10 September 2004 from the previous president, Aleksander Kwasniewski. However, it emerged at the end of Kwasniewski’s term on 23 December, that he rescinded his pardon on 18 November.

Paris, 29 December 2005

Dear Mr President,

Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom organisation, is particularly concerned at the cancellation, on 18 November 2005, of the presidential pardon accorded on 10 September 2004 to Andrzej Marek, editor of the weekly Wiesci Polickie.

The journalist will be imprisoned from 16 January 2006 if no action is taken in his favour.

On 22 June 2004, following a raft of different verdicts and suspensions of sentence, the journalist was sentenced to three months in prison for defaming an official. Reporters Without Borders sought a presidential pardon for Andrzej Marek in two successive letters to President Aleksander Kwasniewski.

In your inaugural address on 23 December, you advocated far-reaching reforms in the fields of “justice, solidarity and honesty”.

We urge you, in the name of press freedom within the European Union, to allow a presidential pardon to Andrzej Marek and to review your legislation so that press offences are no longer punishable by imprisonment, in line with UN recommendations.

We trust you will give this request your careful consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Menard, Secretary General

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