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These include civil and criminal defamation actions and alleged infringement of personal interests by a broad range of actors tied to the ruling party PiS , Jarosław Kaczyński, the Ministry of Justice, the state broadcaster TVP SA and state-owned companies like KGHM and Polska Miedź SA.

The aim of these lawsuits is to silence critical reporting of any wrongdoing by the government and its allies. Jerzy Wójcik, publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza:

“In countries that have become illiberal democracies like Poland, independent media offer hope that a free civil society can survive. Our articles and journalistic investigations go against the interests of the ruling camp. Currently, Gazeta Wyborcza deals with dozens of lawsuits initiated by the governing party, state owned companies and politicians belonging to the ruling camp. It is only thanks to the tireless efforts of our lawyers and the institutions that support us, that we are able to continue our mission and operate as a dynamic, independent media outlet.”

The state and state-owned companies have access to almost infinite amount of funds and their lawyers not only file lawsuits but countless pre-litigation requests as well therefore putting media outlets such as Wyborcza and its journalists under great financial and psychological pressure which has a chilling effect on the media throughout Poland.  

Flutura Kusari, Legal Advisor of ECPMF’s:

“Lawsuits and legal threats against Gazeta Wyborcza demonstrate once more how laws are abused to intimidate and censor the media. This is why it is so urgent to put in place Anti-SLAPP measures at a European level that would discourage politicians and powerful corporations from filing vexatious lawsuits against journalists and the media. The legal support offered by MFRR will contribute to the costs of legal representation for both the outlet and journalists targeted by these actions and will ensure they are afforded the necessary expertise and experience to make their case and defend themselves against these actions that threaten press freedom for everyone in Poland.”

Gazeta Wyborcza expects more lawsuits in the years to come. As the current government is about to remain in power until 2023, freedom of press in Poland is bound to become even more scarce.

***

Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronovirus pandemic for you.

They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.

We have decided to open online access to our news stories and special guides focused on the issue of public health, for free.

The access to information should be equal for all.

Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation
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