A whistleblower who reported illegal activities against the opposition in hotels received a series of dead calls during the night. He also received text messages suggesting that he should hang himself.
Calls from restricted numbers were made on Friday night from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. There were about 20 calls and there were also text messages. Their sender asked Robert Z. whether he could ‘go to the shed?’. ‘The implication was that I should go there to hang myself’ said the former head of security of the Polish Hotel Holding and until recently a close associate of Maciej Wąsik, Deputy Head of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs and Administration (MSWiA) and Law and Justice (PiS) MP, in a conversation with ‘Wyborcza’. In the morning, he consulted his lawyer and wants to file a criminal complaint for harassment intended to arouse a sense of threat’.
Robert Z. attended a meeting with the Civil Platform (PO) Investigation Team
As we have reported, on Friday Robert Z. met with the Civil Platform’s (PO) Investigation Team on Threats to State Security led by Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska. The meeting lasted for approximately two hours and was closed to the media. The meeting was being recorded. ‘To me, he seems to be a Law and Justice (PiS) supporter who could no longer stand what was going on’ – Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska told ‘Wyborcza’ after the meeting. ‘Our guest confirmed everything what the ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ has published and what was included in his notarized statement. It was quite an interesting meeting. Robert Z. was very close with Maciej Wąsik, an MP from his region. Mr. Z. said that he continued to believe in the ideals of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, however, he could not come to terms with the methods deployed by some party members’ said Kluzik-Rostkowska. She added that the whistleblower confirmed that he would be coming to subsequent meetings.
The Team took an interest in the publication by ‘Gazeta Wyborcza under the title ‘Hotele na podsłuchu’ (Bugged Hotels). On Monday, we disclosed evidence of a collaboration between the management of Polish Hotel Holding (PHH), a state-owned hotel chain, and Law and Justice politicians and special services. On 9 September 2020, in an email to Joachim Brudzinski (Law and Justice MP), PHH President Gheorghe Cristescu conveyed information about a meeting to be held between Civic Platform leaders and a Belarusian oppositionist Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. The meeting was to take place on the following day in the VIP room of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel managed by PHH and located at the Okęcie Airport. Cristescu informed Brudziński who would attend the meeting and what security measures have been envisaged by the meeting organisers.
Furthermore, suggestions that the conversation would be recorded by the Internal Security Agency (ABW) appeared in PHH’s internal e-mails conveyed by Cristescu to the Law and Justice MP. This was confirmed to ‘Wyborcza’ by Robert Z. who was employed by the Polish Hotel Holding as the Security Manager during the years 2019-2021. According to his account, Cristescu’s email is authentic and the PHH President himself urged him to ‘help the boys’, that is to help officers of the Internal Security Agency (ABW). Maciej Wąsik, who got Robert Z. employed by the Polish Hotel Holding, allegedly knew about the whole affair. Later Wąsik allegedly urged Robert Z. to assist the Internal Security Agency (ABW) in the surveillance of Bartosz Kramek, an opposition activist conflicted with the Law and Justice (PiS) government. Kramek was a guest at one of PHH’s hotels. According to Robert Z.’s account, the hotel staff collaborated with the Internal Security Agency in providing data about Kramek’s stay. The Internal Security Agency also wanted Robert Z. to comb Kramek’s room in his absence in order to find compromising materials against the activist. Robert Z. did not want to do it. He left PHH, and on 10 February 2023, in the presence of Kramek, he made a statement before a notary in which he described the illegal tasks he had performed at PHH for special services.
After the publication by ‘Wyborcza’, Bartosz Kramek reported an offence with the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Rebuttals Instead of Answers to Questions
In its response to our questions, the Polish Hotel Holding did not want to discuss the content of Cristescu’s email to Brudziński in any way whatsoever. The company focused on discrediting Robert Z. as a source of information, alleging that he sought money that was not due to him after he left his job.
Neither the Internal Security Agency (ABW), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration (MSWiA) nor Wąsik or Brudziński are answering any questions on this case. On the other hand, since Thursday, lawyers engaged by the PHH have been flooding our editorial office with disclaimers (we have already received five of those) in which they refute the information we have published. Their letters contain no reference to Cristescu’s email. PHH writes that ‘no unlawful surveillance of guests’ takes place in the company’s hotels, immediately followed by a statement to the effect that ‘each and every assistance to the special services of the Polish State [the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), the Internal Security Agency (ABW), the Public Prosecutor’s Office] is provided within the limits and on the basis of the generally applicable law’. The Polish Hotel Holding has also stated that ‘to the extent that any unlawful actions were taken by Mr. Robert Z., they took place without the knowledge or consent of PHH’.
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: 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)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: The hotel scandal. After the article published by ‘Wyborcza’, Kramek wants Wąsik and Brudziński prosecuted (April 18, 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)