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"I’ve learned about the charges from a government-friendly media outlet"

"I’ve just learned that the Prosecutor's Office for the Warsaw Midtown North District filed charges against me with the District Court of Warsaw. I’m being accused of insulting the head of state under Article 135 of the Penal Code. The issue concerns a Facebook post about the US elections, in which I wrote, and I quote: "Andrzej Duda is a moron". – Jakub Żulczyk wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, March 22.

He added: "What’s interesting, however, is that both I and my attorney Krzysztof Nowiński, who represented me in this case, did not learn about the charges through any official channels in writing, but from the government-friendly "wPolityce" portal. That’s how things are done here in Poland. I'm not going to behave like the Warsaw prosecutor's office and issue a spontaneous comment on whether the accusations are right or wrong. It’s between me and my lawyer. Whether I admit my guilt or not will be known first to the court. The media, both traditional and social, will be informed about it only afterward. Another funny thing about this entire case is that I am perhaps the first writer in a very long time in this country who will stand trial for what he wrote" - reads the author's Facebook entry.

"Joe Biden is the 46th US president. Andrzej Duda is a moron"

The case dates back to November 7 of last year. On that day, instead of congratulating Joe Biden on his victory in the U.S. presidential election, Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted his now-famous words: “Congratulations to @JoeBiden for a successful presidential campaign. As we await the nomination by the Electoral College, Poland is determined to upkeep high-level and high-quality PL-US strategic partnership for an even stronger alliance”.

Mr. Żulczyk commented on the president's Tweet. On his Facebook profile, he wrote: "Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, wrote on Twitter that he is waiting for the nomination of Joe Biden, President-elect of the United States, by the Electoral College. I hold a master’s degree in North American studies from the Jagiellonian University. Admittedly, today, U.S. politics and the affairs of this country are just a hobby of mine, but I have never heard of such a thing as "nomination by the Electoral College" in the American electoral process. Biden won the election. He received 290 electoral votes. Eventually, after a recount in Georgia, he will probably get 306. To win the race, he needed 270. The US President-elect is "announced" by news agencies, there is no federal, central institution, or office in charge of this announcement. Everything that follows from this day on - counting the rest of the votes, voting of the electoral college- is merely a formal procedure. Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States. Andrzej Duda is a moron" - the author put it bluntly.

But the writer was not alone in his criticism of President Duda's "non-congratulations" to Joe Biden – the leaders of Hungary and Turkey have waited with their compliments to the newly elected US president as well. We have asked our readers to send us congratulatory wishes for the new president and vice-president of the United States. In response, we received many messages ranging from one-sentence congratulations to hopeful wishes imagining a better future for the world and Poland. Most of our readers saw the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as a return to normality.

- The investigation has been initiated after a complaint from a private individual- Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, a spokeswoman for the Warsaw District Prosecutor's Office, told the government-friendly “wPolityce.pl” portal.

She added: - During the official hearing, the questioned suspect did not admit to committing the alleged criminal act. The suspect indicated that the statement was a critical assessment of the president's actions. In the eyes of the prosecution, the term used by the suspect is offensive. It is unacceptable to consider the used word as a form of substantive criticism sanctioned by the right to freedom of expression granted by the Constitution. Under Article 135 section 2 of the Penal Code, the crime is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

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