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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Photojournalists detained by soldiers. Account of one of the detained, statement of the Ministry of National Defense

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Three photojournalists were detained by soldiers when they wanted to take pictures of a “military camp” near the Belarusian border, but not in the state of emergency. – Armed men chased us to the fence, took our coats off us. We were ordered to keep our hands above our heads. We were handcuffed – said Maciej Moskwa, one of the detainees. The Ministry of Defense argues that the photojournalists did not introduce themselves before taking the photos and did not warn the military about it. The story of Maciej Moskva shows something else.

Press Club Polska announced on Wednesday about an “attack on photojournalists”, which took place on Tuesday afternoon in Wiejki, about eight kilometers from the border with Belarus. “A group of people in the uniforms of the Polish Army attacked three photojournalists while they were carrying out their journalistic duties,” we read. The three journalists in question are Maciej Moskwa, Martin Divisek and Maciej Nabrdalik.

The Ministry of National Defense issued a statement on this matter. In it it assured that the soldiers “did not use violence”. “According to the soldiers’ reports, on Tuesday afternoon (…) they noticed three masked people photographing the camp and soldiers” – we read.

The Ministry of National Defense claims that the photojournalists had no signs “proving that they are journalists”. “Upon a call to stop taking photos, the gentlemen went to the vehicle and tried to drive away. In the meantime, the relevant services, including the police, were notified. The soldiers were ordered to detain these people for clarification,” the ministry wrote.

After the detention – writes the Ministry of National Defense – “these persons showed documents confirming their identity, but they did not show press IDs until some time”. “The military do not confirm that before taking the photos, journalists introduced themselves and warned that they would take photos” – we read in the statement.

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Detained photojournalist: we introduced ourselves, we said we were from the media, from the press

A TVN24 journalist spoke with Maciej Moskva, one of the detained photojournalists.

– We approached the gate of the military camp with the cameras, we wanted to document the presence of the army. We introduced ourselves, we said that we are from the media, from the press. And we just took pictures. We were absolutely outside the state of emergency, far away from its border. We went back to the car and wanted to keep going. We have been arrested. Armed people in the uniforms of the Polish Army stood in front of and behind the car, he reported.

Then a “very aggressive officer” approached the car and, using “very vulgar, primitive language”, ordered the photojournalists to get out of the car. – He was then informed that we are journalists – said Moscow.

This version of the events is confirmed by a recording made by one of the photographers during the detention. – Are you getting off or should I leave you? Get out of the car, fucking right now. Already. Get off right now, you have a minute. F *** a, get out of the car, says the man in a raised voice.

“I’m a journalist,” says one of the reporters. – Get out the f *** – he hears in response. – I’m a journalist, I get out of the car – repeats the photojournalist.

A detained photojournalist: they chased us to the fence, ordered us to undress and keep our hands above our heads

– Armed men chased us to the fence, ordered us to undress, our coats were taken off. We were ordered to keep our hands above our heads. After some time, we were handcuffed with plastic. In my case, they were much too tight. I had to raise my hands up so that my blood could run out of me – said the photographer.

While the men were standing by the fence, the military “searched the contents of the cameras”. – We informed you that they cannot do it, that it is a breach of authority. After some time the police came, we were shackled. The policemen did not identify these people in uniforms. The police also searched our journalistic materials, exceeding their powers, Moscow said in an interview with a TVN24 reporter.

Record of the detention of photojournalistsTVN24

“I said my hands hurt from the handcuffs. I heard it was supposed to hurt.”

He assessed that “it was a situation of total intimidation, terror.” – We had the right to take photos, document it – he emphasized.

Referring to the communiqué in which the Ministry of National Defense stated that the photojournalists were masked, he said: – We had masks due to covid restrictions. The three of us traveled in one car. We had normal white masks. I wasn’t in any hood. We introduced ourselves to the guards at the gate.

Moscow said that “this should never have happened”. – I hope that the relevant services and the army will explain how it is possible that a citizen and a journalist are treated like a prisoner of war. I stood for an hour with my arms over my head. They told me to look at my feet. I said my hands hurt from too tightly clasped handcuffs. I heard it was going to hurt. It is a scandalous situation for me – he said.

Moscow: I hope that the relevant services will explain how it is possible that a citizen is treated like a prisoner of war

Moscow: I hope that the relevant services will explain how it is possible that a citizen is treated like a prisoner of warTVN24

Żaryn: the men were fired after it turned out that they were journalists

The spokesman of the minister for the special services coordinator, Stanisław Żaryn, said that the men who found themselves near the military center “were asked to identify themselves and to talk to the guard.”

– They did not give in to this call, they tried to drive away from the place where they were noticed, they were detained. After it turned out that there was talk of journalists who wanted to perform their duties there, they were dismissed – said Żaryn.

Żaryn on the arrest of photojournalists

Żaryn on the arrest of photojournalistsTVN24



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