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Medal of Freedom of Speech 2023. TVN24 journalist Piotr Świerczek awarded

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Piotr Świerczek, TVN24 journalist, was awarded the Freedom of Speech Medal in the Media category. The distinction awarded by the Grand Press Foundation in the Institution category was presented to Professor Ewa Łętowska. The award in the Citizen/Citizen category was received by the founders of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, Lidia Niedźwiecka-Owsiak and Jerzy Owsiak.

The Freedom of Speech Medal in the plebiscite organized by the Grand Press Foundation was awarded in three categories: Media, Institution, Citizen. The winners were announced at the Wednesday gala at the European Solidarity Center in Gdańsk.

Category Institution – professor Ewa Łętowska

In the Institution category, the Medal of Freedom of Speech 2023 was awarded to the professor Ewa Łętowska. The former ombudsman, former judge of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Constitutional Tribunal was awarded “for clearly explaining to Poles the dangers of politicization of the courts and disregard for constitutional principles.”

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Professor Ewa Łętowska with the Freedom of Speech Medal in the Institution category

Professors were also nominated in this category Barbara Engelking, “for staunch defense of historical truth and scientific research” and activists Karol Grabski and Julia Łowkis “for constant, street protest against TVP propaganda and intelligent satire of the bizarre actions of the authorities.”

– Thank you very much indeed, but I’m past tense. Those who are in the present tense should get it. And I hoped that when I came here, I would be able to congratulate Professor Barbara Engelking, because she is present tense, I am past tense – said Professor Łętowska. She deserved the award for one more reason. This is not just a matter of freedom of speech. This is also an issue of academic freedom. And that is also very, very much at risk right now. Maybe not so much with some dark forces, but with our own environmental opportunism, she noted.

Media category – Piotr Świerczek

In the Media category, the Medal of Freedom of Speech 2023 “for investigative journalism of the highest quality, unmasking the lies of the authorities, which resulted in a gesture of solidarity of the Polish media environment”, was awarded to the TVN24 journalist Piotr Świerczek.

The head of Magazyn Wirtualna Polska was also nominated in this category Bianka Mikołajewska “for journalistic courage combined with reliability and ethical compass” and a publicist Tomasz Terlikowski “for defending his beliefs and going against the current, regardless of the criticism of his environment.”

– The effect of the broadcast of “The power of lies” was the proceedings initiated against TVN24 by the National Broadcasting Council against my editorial office for broadcasting my material. But right after that, something incredible happened. Amazing action. Nearly one hundred editorial offices published my material on their websites in one day. These large, national editorial offices, but also small, local ones. It was an amazing gesture of solidarity, journalistic solidarity – recalled Piotr Świerczek.

– Personally, I want to believe that it was also a proof of trust, faith in our editorial independence and reliability. But above all, it was a gesture of opposition to such a growing tendency of censorship in Poland, he noted.

Świerczek: We are on the side of values, freedom of speech.  And it seems to me that only such journalism makes sense

Świerczek: We are on the side of values, freedom of speech. And it seems to me that only such journalism makes senseTVN24

He thanked that “these editorial offices dared to stand on our side”. – But most of all, I would like to thank my editors for trusting me. “Black on white” directed by Patrycja Redo, but also the current editor-in-chief of TVN24, Michał Samul, cheered me a lot and decided to broadcast my material, even though I assume they knew well that hitting such a sensitive point of power, unmasking the manipulation of the subcommittee Smolensk, may result in retaliation – he explained.

– And it actually happened. The proceedings brought by the National Broadcasting Council are ongoing. And this despite the fact that in February we decided to publish seemingly indisputable evidence that the subcommittee dealing with the Smolensk catastrophe hid some of the materials, evidence and analyzes and – contrary to the words of Antoni Macierewicz – these hidden reports do not mention explosions and an attack – he added.

– I’m a journalist. I try to be faithful to the principles. At TVN24 we do not flatter politicians in power, but we try to hold the power accountable and keep an eye on it. We stand on the side of values ​​and freedom of speech. And it seems to me that only such journalism makes sense, said Świerczek.

Piotr Świerczek and “The Power of Lies”

Report “The Power of Lies”, premiered on September 12, 2022 on TVN24, is the result of many months of work by the “Black and white” journalist of TVN24, Piotr Świerczek. The author obtained recordings, photos and international expertise regarding disaster in Smolensk in 2010, which – although commissioned by the so-called Antoni Macierewicz’s Smolensk Subcommittee – were never included in its reports, including the last one, which was supposed to be the final report. These materials either directly exclude the attack or point to the disaster as the cause of the tragedy. Świerczek also talked to people who worked for the subcommittee, but do not agree with its conclusions that there was an attack in Smolensk. What’s more, the journalist’s interlocutors directly say that their research has been manipulated or selectively used for theses assumed in advance by the subcommittee.

When it turned out that at the request of Antoni Macierewicz National Broadcasting Councilinstead of guarding freedom of speech, TVN wants to punish dozens of the largest national and local media for this material as a sign of solidarity, decided to publishing the report “The Power of Lies“.

Citizen/Citizen category – Lidia Niedźwiecka-Owsiak and Jerzy Owsiak

In the Citizen/Civic category, the founders of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity were awarded the Medal of Freedom of Speech 2023 Lidia Niedźwiecka-Owsiak and Jerzy Owsiak “for millions of united hearts and collected funds, for supporting the weakest, for uncompromising and wise speaking out in public matters”.

Activists were also nominated in this category Dominik Kuc “for creating a nationwide ranking of LGBTQ+-friendly schools and working for this community” and a musician and columnist Zbigniew Holdys “for emotions and reason in defense of liberal and democratic values.”

Main photo source: TVN24

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