Bartosz Kramek of the Open Dialogue Foundation has requested that an investigation be launched against Maciej Wąsik, the Deputy Head of the Ministry of the Interior, and Joachim Brudziński, Law and Justice MEP. The reason for the investigations is the suspected surveillance planted in hotels owned by a state-owned hotel holding company. Bartosz Kramek is the President of the Open Dialogue Foundation, active in Poland and the West. Kramek acts in defence of democracy and the rule of law both in Poland as well as in Eastern European countries. He is in sharp disagreement with the Law and Justice (PiS) government.
The special services of the PiS government and pro-government media have for a few years been after Kramek and the Open Dialogue Foundation. In 2021, Kramek was even arrested for alleged money laundering and was later released on bail. His wife Lyudmyla Kozlovska has been banned from entering Poland, even though international courts ruled that the actions taken against her by the PiS government are unlawful. Following the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Open Dialogue Foundation launched a large-scale support for the Ukrainian army (bulletproof vests and other equipment for the military) and delivers humanitarian aid.
A few years ago, the Open Dialogue Foundation sued Maciej Wąsik for violation of personal rights. Wąsik had accused Kramek and Kozlovska of, among others, connections with Russia and money laundering. In 2022 Wąsik who was the Deputy Head of the Ministry of the Interior and Deputy Coordinator of Special Services lost the case in the court of first instance.
Investigation into the Actions of Wąsik and Brudziński
Now, legal attorneys representing the Open Dialogue Foundation activist are demanding on his behalf that an investigation be launched into whether Wąsik abused his powers by ‘ordering the illegal surveillance of Bartosz Kramek, which in particular included collecting information about his banking operations, enabling the installation of cameras, eavesdropping devices and searching his hotel room, as a result of which Bartosz Kramek’s privacy has been violated.’
On the other hand, Brudziński is accused by Kramek’s attorneys of abusing his powers by ‘unlawfully coming into possession of information’ about a meeting between Civic Coalition politicians and a Belarusian oppositionist Svetlana Tikhanovskaya which took place on 10 September 2020 in the Courtyard by Marriott Warsaw Airport hotel owned by the state-owned Polish Hotel Holding. Brudziński is alleged of being ‘at least aware’ that the meeting would be under surveillance by the secret service.
According to the notification of a suspected offence filed on Tuesday with the Warsaw District Public Prosecutor’s Office, Brudziński (the former Head of the Ministry of the Interior and currently a PiS MEP) may have even ‘ordered an illegal surveillance’ of Civic Coalition leaders.
The Surveillance was Exposed by the ‘Wyborcza’ Daily
The notification filed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office came as the result of ‘Wyborcza’ publication on Monday under the title ‘Bugged Hotel Rooms’. The notification also relied on a notarised statement made on 10 February 2023 by Robert Z. who from 2019 to 2021 was the security manager of the Polish Hotel Holding (PHH) which operates a number of hotels in Poland, including the Courtyard by Marriott Warsaw Airport. He is also a member of the Law and Justice (PiS) party and for many years was a trusted man of Deputy Minister Wąsik.
In the article published on Monday we have confirmed the authenticity of the emails exchanged between PHH President Gheorghe Cristescu and Brudzinski, disclosed by the website Poufnarozmowa.top (Note: the name of the website in Polish means ‘secret conversation’). On 9 September Cristescu informed Brudzinski of a meeting scheduled to take place between Civic Coalition leaders and Tikhanovskaya. It is not clear why he did so (neither PHH nor Brudzinski commented on this matter).
The email also contains information implying that the meeting would be subject to special service surveillance, of which the participants were unaware. As we have reported, Wąsik has also allegedly known that the conversation between the Civic Coalition leaders and Tikhanovskaya was being recorded by the secret services in cooperation with the hotel staff.
According to Robert Z., Wąsik attempted to persuade him to join in the process of gathering compromising material against Kramek who stayed in hotels belonging to PHH. In Kramek’s notification of a suspected offence to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the activist of the Open Dialogue Foundation wants to be recognised as a wronged party in the case. Kramek also names other individuals to be questioned in addition to Wąsik and Brudziński, i.e., Cristescu, the PHH legal advisor, the head of one of the holding company’s hotels, Robert Z., and Magdalena Szefernaker. The latter is the wife of Paweł Szefernaker, Law and Justice MP and Deputy Head of the Ministry of the Interior, who is the head of the PHH communications office. Another person to be questioned is Piotr Pogonowski, the former head of the Internal Security Agency (ABW), today an advisor to the President of the National Bank of Poland.
According to the statement of reasons for the notification of a suspected offence addressed to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, ‘by making the decision to invigilate Bartosz Kramek, Minister Maciej Wąsik may have abused his powers. There is also no doubt that, by doing so, Maciej Wąsik acted to the detriment of Bartosz Kramek’s private interest. It is a gross violation of, for example, the right to a legal protection of a private life (Article 47 of the Constitution). There is no doubt that government authorities have a duty to act within the limits of and as permitted under the applicable law. On the contrary, in the present case the government authorities acted unlawfully, since there were no grounds to take any of the actions described above, which were contrary to the applicable legal regulations’.
The Special Services Keep Silence
Neither Wąsik or Brudziński nor the Internal Security Agency (ABW) have commented on the information reported by the ‘Wyborcza’ daily. Opposition MPs described this practice as a ‘pure Putinade’ and demanded explanations from the government. The Polish Hotel Holding also gave a statement, calling the ‘Wyborcza’ article ‘fake news damaging the company’s good repute’. However, the PHH focused mainly on discrediting Robert Z. and accusing him of ‘blackmailing and harassing PHH employees’.
In other media:
- Polityka: How much the PiS government knows about us and what it can do to us. It has the most sensitive, intimate data (August 14, 2023)
- TOK.fm: The Hotel scandal. Why did the deputy Minister of the Interior and Administration order a search of Bartosz Kramek’s room? “He brazenly used the services” (May 26, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Bartosz Kramek is seeking an apology and a compensation of PLN 1 million for being invigilated at hotels (May 23, 2023)
- Horeca Business Club: Bugged hotels of the Polish Hotel Holding: Request for a Council of Europe investigation (May 1, 2023)
- Radio Zet: Yet another bugging scandal? ‘Surveillance in hotels, searching for condoms’ (April 28, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Poland’s government colluded with state-owned hotel chain to spy on political opponents (April 25, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: The Hotel Scandal. The Marriott Headquarters: “We are taking all efforts to ensure a warm welcome for everyone” (April 24, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: The hotel scandal. Threats against the whistleblower (April 22, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Bugged hotels discussed in the Sejm. The whistleblower met with opposition MPs (April 21, 2023)
- Trybuna: The room service (April 20, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Agnieszka Kublik: Stay alert while in a hotel bathroom! This is not a hitchcock movie, this is Kaczyński’s Poland (April 19, 2023)
- Horeca Business Club: Bugged hotels of the Polish Hotel Holding Group (April 17, 2023)
- Onet: Bugged hotels. This is how special services reportedly spied on the opposition (April 17, 2023)
- Upday: Do Law and Justice party special services snoop on the opposition in hotels? (April 17, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Bugged hotel rooms – Law and Justice recidivists spring to action (April 17, 2023)
- Wirtualna Polska: Surveillance of hotel guests? The Polish Hotel Holding responds and denies involvement (April 17, 2023)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Bugged Hotels. Gazeta Wyborcza Daily reveals how the Law and Justice’s secret services are keeping tabs on the opposition (April 17, 2023)