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During the protest in front of the Ministry of National Education on November 23, photojournalist Agata Grzybowska, associated with "Wyborcza", was detained by police officers and taken to the police headquarters on Wilcza Street. The crowd of protesters went there to demonstrate against the detention of the journalist and other activists who were escorted by the police from the Ministry of Education.
The police is accusing Grzybowska of blinding an officer and berate her for not being objective
On Monday evening, inspector Mariusz Ciarka, a spokesperson for the Polish Police, commented on the detention of Agata Grzybowska: - Let us wait calmly for the matter to be clarified - he said during an interview with TVN24.
He argued that at the time of the arrest the police officers 'did not know she was a journalist'. The journalist who interviewed Ciarka pointed out that the journalist was showing the officers her press ID, which was captured by another photojournalist of „Wyborcza", Maciej Jaźwiecki. - Press ID or any other document does not take away your responsibility to act orderly,' said Ciarka. He justified the officers' actions by the fact that Grzybowska was detained "only for the time necessary to perform their actions".
On Tuesday, however, the police spokesperson has stated that the photojournalist "attacked a policeman, by using the camera’s flash light directly at him", and that she was "not an objective journalist" but rather someone who „is in favor of a particular side". - No IDs, either journalistic or MP's or police, takes away responsibility from the officers to act when they suspect a crime. We acted justly - he added.
Ciarka also referred to the statement issued by Agata Grzybowska. He said that 'there is a lot of emotion in it'. - The photojournalist admits that she deliberately flashed the lamp in the policeman's eyes - Ciarka claimed falsely. He added that in her statement she admitted that during the protest she was not only an 'objective photojournalist who would just do her job’. Ciarka again put words in Grzybowska’s mouth by claiming that in her statement she said she ‘participated in the protests’, even though she only stated that she was supportive of the causes raised by the Women’s strike.
The spokesman added at the end of the conversation: - She blinded a police officer, and I also know that she assaulted him. Let us leave this to the prosecutor's office to explain.
Deputy Law and Justice spokesperson: She has covered part of her face
MP Michał Szczerba from Civic Coalition, who accompanied the detainees at the police station on Wilcza Street, told us on Monday evening that the photojournalist, before being released home, was charged of the use of physical violence towards a police officer. This was confirmed by a spokesman of Warsaw police headquarters, Sylwester Marczak.
Radosław Fogiel, the deputy spokesman for the Law and Justice party, said in an interview for TVN24 that 'the journalist kicked a policeman'. He also said that he was wondering why the journalist was 'dressed like the protests’ participants'. - This is not a mean remark, all aspects must be clarified. For example, I wonder why the journalist who took part in the protest was dressed in accordance with all the guidelines which are set for the protests’ participants? Most of her face was covered. Her press ID was hidden as well. I watched the recording. At the time of the arrest, she was not wearing a mask. Instead, she had a hoodie that almost entirely masked her face," he added.
Fogiel's words were mocked by Adrian Zandberg, one of the leaders of Razem party: "A mask, a hoodie and sports shoes are, as we all know, part of an antifa uniform. No wonder that politicians on the right are getting nervous. You go out for a walk, into a shop, get on the subway, and there are dozens of antifa militants everywhere. Dreadful!“ - he wrote on Twitter.
However, the right-wing media, such as the wpolityce.pl portal, defend the police. They ask in their headline: "Does Wyborcza’s photojournalist have the right to kick a policeman?". TVP Info informs about the situation using the same narrative: 'A photojournalist from Gazeta Wyborcza shot a flash and then kicked a policeman'.
Agata Grzybowska issues a statement on Monday evening after she was released from detention in which she vehemently denies all charges.
A notice of the possibility of police officers committing a crime - in connection with Grzybowska's detention - was submitted on Tuesday by Marcin Lewicki, President of Press Club Polska. "Public institutions, including the police, have a duty to ensure that journalists are free to carry out their professional duties, and the police cannot hinder them. Actions such as those taken against Agata Grzybowska are violations of press freedom'. - he wrote.
The journalistic community has acted in defense of the photojournalist. Several hundred journalists signed an open letter calling on the police to allow them to perform their duties freely.
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