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Satirical website shut down for anti-presidential content

PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 23.05.2011 11:03
After security agents raided the home and confiscated the laptop of the editor of a satirical web site poking fun at President Komorowski last week, critics say that it’s time a law which bans insulting Poland’s head of state be scrapped.


Agents from the Internal Security Agency (ABW) last week stormed the apartment of Robert Frycz, whose website, AntyKomor.pl, hosted satirical photographs and other files targeted against Poland’s president, Bronislaw Komorowski.

ABW officers stormed Frycz’s apartment in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, central Poland, at 6 am on Wednesday morning, confiscating his laptop computer, hard drives, as well as other memory devices.

The raid has caused uproar among Polish bloggers, especially from more conservative circles, who are now wondering whether they will “get a wake-up call” from the ABW. Last Wednesday’s events have also raised questions on freedom of speech in the country.

Second offence

While prosecutors in Tomaszow Mazowiecki are looking into possible defamation of the presidential office by Robert Frycz, it has since transpired that the satirist was previously handed a two-year suspended sentence for hacking into a telecom company’s servers.

Meanwhile, Frycz has announced on the AntyKomor.pl website that the domain “is not for sale” and that he is organising a competition for a new site which is to take its place.

Although the website itself will not be providing satirical information on Bronislaw Komorowski, it is to link to a new site whose domain is to be made public on Wednesday, according to a statement by Frycz on AntyKomor.pl.

Ironic twist?

While the Internal Security Agency was created under former communist Leszek Miller’s government in 2002, it was the conservative Law and Justice-led coalition government that gained notoriety among public opinion for its alleged overuse of the security services, something which Civic Platform was all too keen to point out in its parliamentary campaign in 2007.

On Sunday, meanwhile, Presidential Advisor Tomasz Nalecz told Polish Radio that Bronislaw Komorowski was “surprised” by the ABW storm on Frycz’s apartment last week.

Nalecz said that he is sure that the President will stand on the side of Frycz, although he is personally expected to issue a statement in the matter or via the Presidential Chancellery.

“During the Polish People’s Republic, [Komorowski] took to the streets to defend freedom of speech,” Nalecz said, adding that “he was repressed because of it, and his views haven’t changed since.”

Article 135 of the Polish Penal Code envisages a prison sentence of three years for defamation of the presidential office. Frycz is yet to hear charges for the possible defamation. (jb)

Source: IAR/PAP/Rzeczpospolita/Salon24

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