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On Wednesday, the Warsaw prosecutor’s office brought charges against Marta Lempart, one of the leaders of the Women’s Strike movement. Lempart is accused of organizing protests that violated the Covid-19 restrictions, of insulting a police officer and of inciting others to destroy Church property. She faces up to 8 years in prison. 

The hearing lasted less than an hour. Marta Lempart did not admit to the charges and refused to offer an explanatory statement.

- The government turned to using the Criminal Code against citizens after it lost a number of court cases brought on the basis of the alleged violation of the Code on Procedure in Misdemeanour Cases against the protesters. Now they are trying a new legal trick to force our obedience. My case is a clear example of that," Lempart told Wyborcza.

During a Wednesday’s press briefing, the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department Ned Price acknowledged that the case against Lempart is closely followed by the Biden Administration. 

Responding to a journalist, Price reminded that “promoting, advocating, and defending freedom of speech, the right to peaceful protest, and judicial independence – these are critical to every democracy”, and while “Poland is a valued NATO ally”, the State Department is committed not only to strengthening the partnership with Poland, but also to “advancing the administration’s commitments to supporting democratic institutions, human rights, and the rule of law.”

Price also added that the charges against Lempart are “part and parcel of a constricting space for civil society within Poland”, and the new presidential administration has “broader concerns, including the proposed media tax that has been unveiled recently as well".

- As I was saying in the context of a very different media crackdown, we’re committed to supporting a diversity of independent media voices and opinions, which we believe are essential to vibrant democracies; Price concluded.

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