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Case of Bogdan Wróblewski vs. CBA already in court

On Thursday, 12 January 2012, the first hearing in the proceedings against the head of the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) was held in the Circuit Court in Warsaw. The suit, filed by Bogdan Wróblewski, a journalist with the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, involves an infringement of claimant’s personal interests, which allegedly consisted in the CBA’s unlawful acquisition of journalist’s telecommunications data, including his phone records, in years 2005-2007.

As a courtesy to the Helsinki Foundation, Mr Maciej Ślusarek agreed to represent the claimant pro bono. The Foundation has joined in the proceedings as a community organisation.

The claimant contended in his statement of claim that the Bureau’s actions had violated his personal interests at both the private and professional level. Consequently, he seeks legal remedy equally as a citizen and a journalist. In Mr Wróblewski’s view, the CBA not only acted against his informational autonomy (enshrined in Article 47 of the Polish Constitution) and intervened in his privacy of communication (protected under Article 49 of the Constitution), but also violated the freedom of expression (Article 54) and the freedom of the press (Article 14) by circumventing the reporter’s privilege (laid down in Article 15 of the Press Act).

The claimant seeks an injunction to compel the Head of the CBA to destroy all the materials containing his telecommunications data and publish an apology in three national dailies. The respondent moved the Court to dismiss the action.

At the hearing, both the claimant and the respondent upheld their statements. Mr Ślusarek, counsel for the claimant, submitted an additional evidentiary motion to admit the minutes of the meeting of the Sejm Intelligence Committee, at which Maciej Wąsik, former deputy head of the Bureau, had been questioned. ‘The document reads that Mr Wąsik acknowledged that the Bureau had accessed Mr Wróblewski’s phone records because it had been easier than consulting the records of a number of the Bureau’s officers’ argued Mr Ślusarek. The Court stated that it would decide on the motion following the response of the other party.

Nevertheless, the Court admitted other documentary evidence, whose admission had been previously requested by the claimant, including a series of press articles on cases of surveillance of journalists and records provided by telecommunications providers.

The judge presiding over the case also dismissed the respondent’s motion to suspend the proceedings until the resolution of the criminal proceedings launched by the Circuit Prosecutor’s Office investigating the alleged abuse of authority by CBA officers. In her reasons, the judge stated that the evidence presented to the Court was sufficient enough for her to render a final judgement in the case without the need to wait for the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Ultimately, the Court adjourned the proceedings to enable the respondent to respond to the claimant’s motion to admit the minutes of the Sejm Intelligence Committee’s meeting.

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