Maciej Wąsik, the Deputy Head of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration and Deputy Coordinator of the secret services lost the trial for violation of personal rights of the Open Dialogue Foundation. Wąsik accused the Foundation of connections with Russia, money laundering and hybrid activities and accused Bartosz Kramek, the Chairman of ODF’s Board, of publicly calling for bloodshed.
According to the ruling of the District Court in Warsaw, within two weeks of the date on which the judgment comes into full force and effect, Wąsik must make a statement of apology to Lyudmyla Kozlovska, Bartosz Kramek and the Open Dialogue Foundation for the prejudicious statements made against them in television such as TVP Info, Telewizja Republika and web TV wPolsce.pl, as well as in conversations with journalists of pro-government media.
‘There are many indications that the Open Dialogue Foundation was too open to funding from untransparent sources,’ – said Wąsik in 2018 to the ‘Gazeta Polska Codziennie’ daily. In 2019, during an interview for TVP Info, he argued that the Foundation ‘is suspicious’: ‘It was being said, ear-to-ear or quietly in the corridors, that the sources of their funding are concealed, their work posed a threat in various parts of Europe. (…) I’d dare to say that this foundation could be called hybrid.’
The judgment was passed three years after filing of the lawsuit and four years since Maciej Wąsik’s first defamatory statements about ODF. The court found that Wąsik used defamation to further political interests of his own party. During the court hearing in February 2022, Wąsik attempted to soften the tenor of his words and mentioned memory fallibility. Earlier on, he had referred to secret documents of the Internal Security Agency and backed his statements with libellous publications of government-supporting ‘media’, all while ignoring the fact that the ‘findings’ of his secret services had been debunked three times by Polish courts and considered unreliable by five Western countries.
According to the judgement of the court, Wąsik is to pay 10 thousand Polish zloty to each of Lyudmyla Kozlovska, Bartosz Kramek and the Foundation, plus statutory interest accrued from 26 June 2020 until the date of payment, and to cover court costs.
‘This is an unprecedented case in Poland, which has cost us 5 years of incessant struggle almost every day against political attacks by a high-profile official of the Polish secret services. The case is all the more unprecedented given its current context, namely that the humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian Euromaidan and defenders of Ukraine provided by ODF during the period from 2013 to 2015 is presented by the leaders of the Polish Law and Justice party as ‘money laundering’,’ – commented Lyudmyla Kozlovska.
‘This court ruling demonstrates the importance of independence of the judiciary, which remains the last institutional barrier protecting citizens against increasingly oppressive political power and at times it also allows citizens to hold those in power accountable. It is, however, a bitter satisfaction. I am not deluded that this ruling will have an educative effect – for that to happen, much more serious sanctions are needed,’ – adds Bartosz Kramek. – ‘Our opponent in litigation is not only responsible for verbal attacks on individuals and organisations defending the rule of law in Poland, but he is also accountable for illegal wiretapping and inhumane treatment of refugees on the border with Belarus. He has their blood on his hands and for this he should be held criminally liable.‘
Maciej Wąsik also spoke on detention of those involved in the civil disobedience movement in connection with the situation on the Belarusian border, including Bartosz Kramek who had already drawn attention to Wąsik’s unacceptable role in the actions of the state apparatus as regards the treatment of refugees and immigrants attempting to enter Poland.’
More about the case in Polish media:
- naTemat: Wąsik przegrał w sądzie z Fundacją Otwarty Dialog. Zarzucał jej powiązania z Rosją [Wąsik accused the Open Dialogue Foundation of having connections with Russia and lost in court] (05.08.2022)
- Tok FM: Zeznania Wąsika to desperacja czy poczucie bezkarności? [Wąsik’s testimony: is it desperation or a sense of impunity?] (3.08.2022)
- Archiwum Osiatyńskiego: Maciej Wąsik musi przepraszać. Przegrał proces, który wytoczyła mu Fundacja Otwarty Dialog [Maciej Wąsik lost the lawsuit brought against him by the Open Dialogue Foundation and must apologise] (02.08.2022)
- Wprost: Przegrany proces wiceministra [The lost case of the Vice Minister] (2.08.2022)
- OKO.Press: Maciej Wąsik musi przepraszać. Przegrał proces, który wytoczyła mu Fundacja Otwarty Dialog [Maciej Wąsik lost the lawsuit brought against him by the Open Dialogue Foundation and must apologise] (01.08.2022)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Sąd: Maciej Wąsik ma przeprosić Fundację Otwarty Dialog [Court: Maciej Wąsik to apologise to the Open Dialogue Foundation] (01.08.2022)
- Onet: Maciej Wąsik musi przeprosić Fundację Otwarty Dialog [Maciej Wąsik must apologise to the Open Dialogue Foundation] (29.07.2022)