Polish Magazine Raided After Publishing Secretly Recorded Conversation
On Saturday, Poland's Wprost magazine published a secretly recorded conversation between two officials that revealed a recently departed minister may have been dismissed at the behest of the country's national bank head. Four days later, Polish police, prosecutors, and intelligence officers raided Wprost's office in an attempt to seize the recordings.
The article and subsequent government investigation have caused turmoil in Poland, so much so that Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowsk have said holding parliamentary elections early may be necessary to ease the unrest. The BBC reports:
"It may happen that the only solution will be early elections if the crisis in confidence is so deep," Mr Tusk told a news conference on Thursday.
Stressing he wished to avoid any actions impinging on freedom of speech, he said chief prosecutor Andrzej Seremet had assured him the search of the Wprost offices had been legal.
The published conversation, between Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz and central bank head Marek Belka, took place at a restaurant, and regarded the country's budget deficit. If Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski were removed, Belka allegedly said, the bank would intervene to assist.
The two men allegedly discussed how the bank could help the government deal with a budget deficit and increase its chances of re-election in 2015.
The chief banker is allegedly heard requesting the removal of finance minister, who was then Jacek Rostowski, in return for the bank's intervention in propping up the national economy in the event of an emergency.
Four months later Mr Rostowski was replaced but Mr Tusk has denied this was as a result of the talks.
Polish journalists rallied around Wprost, congregating at its office during the raid to show support for the magazine's right to publish the article and protect its sources. The solidarity worked: After meeting "resistance from journalists," the authorities left without any computers or recordings, according to the BBC.
Wprost editor-in-chief Sylwester Latkowski said officers attempted to take his laptop by "physical force," and that the magazine isn't finished releasing recordings. From Bloomberg:
"We're here to protect the right to the secrecy of the source," Latkowski said on TVP Info. "We'll release a second recording on Monday."
Instagram photos appear to show the raid in progress:
[Image via AP]