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Photojournalists detained by soldiers near Michałów. Mariusz Błaszczak comments

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The soldiers behaved as they should, I praised them – this is how the Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Błaszczak, commented on the arrest by military personnel of three photojournalists near the border, but outside the state of emergency. – 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 handcuffs – said Maciej Moskwa, one of the detained photojournalists, in an interview with a TVN24 journalist

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Press Club Polska informed on Wednesday about “attack on photojournalists”, which took place on Tuesday afternoon in the village of 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. These 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 – as the Ministry of National Defense explained – “these persons showed documents confirming their identity, but they showed their press IDs only after 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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Soldiers reprimanded? “No, they got an award from me”

Błaszczak, when asked on Saturday in RMF, whether the soldiers who arrested the photojournalists received a reprimand from him, replied: no, they received an award from me. In the sense that I commended them for their behavior. They acted properly.

– Just imagine – we have a hybrid attack, Poland has been attacked. Three masked, hooded people sneak into the camp, but this is a military camp. There are soldiers who are resting after the watch on the border. It is the duty of those on watch to ensure safety. It is their duty to be firm. They cannot be open to the fact that the three guys who are masked are sneaking into the camp. They are to react firmly and they reacted firmly – the head of the Ministry of National Defense.

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.

A “very aggressive officer” was to approach the car and use “very vulgar, primitive language” to order photojournalists to get out of the car. – He was then informed that we are journalists – said Moscow.

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.

She intervened in the matter of detaining photojournalists Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which turned to the Ministry of National Defense. HFHR lawyers ask, inter alia, “whether it is planned to clarify the circumstances of the incident and, if irregularities are found, to take consequences against those responsible”.

Record of the detention of photojournalistsTVN24

Main photo source: PAP / Tomasz Waszczuk



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