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Poland: Police Confiscate Journalist's Computer Equipment

FILE - Protesters with signs reading 'Free Media' gather outside Poland's state TVP building in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 10, 2021.

Police confiscated the computer equipment of a journalist working for a leading newspaper in Poland which has carried out investigations of the country's right-wing government.

The seizure of the equipment of Piotr Bakselerowicz, a reporter for the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, took place on Saturday in Zielona Gora, a city in western Poland 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Warsaw. The raid and seizure of the equipment was done on orders from police in Warsaw.

Roman Imielski, the paper's deputy editor, said the police incursion took place without a warrant and "strikes against the fundamental right to journalistic secrecy in a democracy."

He said in an article published on the paper's website Saturday that the editors have "no doubts" that the police raid is "to intimidate the journalists" of the newspaper, citing other moves by the ruling authorities against independent media.

Warsaw police said the reporter wasn't specifically targeted. It said that offensive messages containing threats had been sent to Polish lawmakers, who reported the threats to the police.

The messages were then traced to an IP address that led to that of a "little-known local journalist."

Bakselerowicz denied having sent any threatening emails.

"I have never threatened anyone. To me, it is a provocation or an attempt at revenge for writing inconvenient articles," Bakselerowicz said.

Meanwhile, the editors of the newspaper vowed to use all legal means to protect its journalists "from harassment by the authoritarian authorities."

"We declare that we will not bow to repression and will not allow ourselves to be intimidated. Criticizing all power and exposing its abuses is our civic and democratic duty. Even when the abuse of power affects our journalists and ourselves," they said.

The ruling party has also sought recently to pass a law that would strip the U.S. company Discovery Inc. of its ownership of TVN, a Polish television network.

TVN believes that the main aim is its evening news program Fakty, which offers critical coverage of the authorities and is watched by millions daily.