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Poland7 February 2004

Journalist to serve three-month jail term for libelling local official

Reporters Without Borders today deplored the confirmation of a three-month prison sentence imposed on a provincial newspaper editor for libelling a local official and called on the Polish parliament to amend the country’s libel laws.

The journalist, Andrzej Marek, editor of the weekly Wiesci Polikie, in the western town of Police, had been given the three-month sentence last November for libelling Piotr Misilo, who he said had misused public property. But the sentence was suspended if he apologised to him. He refused and was ordered by a court on 6 February to go to prison. He has seven days in which to appeal.

Reporters Without Borders pointed out that Poland, which is due to join the European Union in May, was violating European standards of press freedom, which say journalists must not be jailed for actions that are part of their job. It called for Marek’s sentence to be dropped.

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