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Polish Judges Want Lawmakers to Probe Hate Campaign

Protesters with banners calling on Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro to quit over allegations that his deputy encouraged an online hate campaign against defiant judges in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 21, 2019.

Poland's judges urged lawmakers Wednesday to investigate an online hate campaign against some of them that was apparently encouraged by a deputy justice minister who has resigned over the allegations.

The judges of the independent Iustitia association also demanded that Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro resign over the scandal revealed this week by the news site. Ziobro is also the prosecutor general, which the judges say means he cannot be objective in the probe that Warsaw prosecutors have launched into the online hate campaign.

The judges said they were “shocked and saddened” by its revelations that a justice ministry official coordinated a hate campaign against them.

“We want the matter clarified to the core and we want all those responsible to bear the consequences,” the judges said. reported that Deputy Justice Minister Lukasz Piebiak encouraged an online user, identified only as Emilia, to discredit some judges who had been critical of Poland's right-wing nationalist government. He reportedly furnished Emilia with personal data of the targeted judges in violation of Poland's privacy laws.

Piebiak, a judge himself, resigned Tuesday but said he plans to sue the portal for libel.

The revelations are highly embarrassing for the ruling party, Law and Justice, which has pushed changes to Poland's judiciary, even at the price of a clash with European Union leaders who say the changes undermine the country's rule of law. The EU has launched disciplinary proceedings against Poland over the changes.

The revelations come as Poland gears up for an Oct. 13 parliamentary election in which the ruling party hopes to strengthen its majority.