When resolving accusations brought by Józef Gacek, the prosecutor who led the operation at “Wprost”, the District Court in Warsaw found Majewski and Lisiecki guilty and fined them with PLN 18,000 and 20,000, respectively, under Article 224(2) of the Polish Penal Code which says: he who uses violence or an illegal threat with the intention of forcing a public official to undertake or abstain from a lawful official duty shall be liable to a penalty.
‘The court has failed to consider the conflict of two interests here. The point is that we fought for journalistic confidentiality, as it constitutes the basic rule of this profession. If a journalist is asked not to disclose sources and keep their details secret, they must keep the promise,’ said Majewski in his interview with the Polish Press Agency (PAP). In 2014, he was a journalist at “Wprost” weekly and now is a partner at a consulting firm. ‘Meanwhile, those officers intended to tear Latkowski’s computer away, where he stored the records of many journalist stories, including such based on interviews he had had with sources who had wished to remain anonymous. This was our only point,’ he explained.
Majewski has written about the court’s judgment on Wprost.pl. He said that he had not yet received a written reasoning.
Wojciech Czuchnowski from “Gazeta Wyborcza” completely doesn’t agree with the judgment. ‘It only shows how deeply the work of journalists is misunderstood,’ claims Czuchnowski. ‘They both defended a laptop with details of sources, and as journalists, they had the duty to do so. I hope this judgment won’t be upheld by an appeals court. And if it is, despite the differences between us, I will be the first person to chip in to the fine so that they don’t need to pay for it out of their own pocket,’ he assures.
Ewa Siedlecka from “Polityka” notes that this situation undeniably involved obstructing public officers, yet the circumstances were exceptional. ‘The officers were neither harmed nor injured, and both journalists were defending a greater good which is journalistic confidentiality,’ says Siedlecka. ‘The court should either recognize their right to act so, or admit that an offense was indeed committed, but waive the penalty specifically due to this greater good,’ she adds.