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Sensitive documents and internal government correspondence continue to appear online after the personal email account of Michał Dworczyk, the Polish PM’s Chief of Staff, was reported compromised last week.
In a newly leaked email to the Prime Minister sent on October 27, 2020, at 9:32 a.m., Mr Dworczyk writes: "Mateusz, I am sending you some comments in reference to our conversation earlier today. The use of the military in the current situation evokes extremely negative connotations and raises numerous possible risks, including provocations, accusations, and huge reputational damage for the government and the military. The current situation should be handled by police forces with the support of fire brigades".
Back then, Polish women took to the streets after the Constitutional Tribunal announced its decision to further restrict access to legal abortion. Protests kept escalating all around the country.
The ruling camp was horrified by the scale of the public’s response. Mr Dworczyk's email sheds light on the content of government-level talks, showing that the option of deploying military (specifically, the Territorial Defense Forces) as support for law enforcement to pacify the protestors was seriously considered. At several points during the email exchange, Mr Dworczyk lists the negative aspects of using military forces, mentioning, among other things, possible associations with totalitarian regimes, martial law, and the fact that such a decision would only "add fuel to the fire".
Sensitive emails leaked on Telegram
Mr Dworczyk's email is yet another episode in a series of leaks that have been going on since last week. Unknown perpetrators began publishing messages from his private email account on Telegram- a popular messaging app set up by the Russian opposition. It quickly turned out that PM Morawiecki, the government spokesman, ministers and their advisors also used private accounts for official correspondence. Two to three emails are being published via Telegram every day.
Asked about the scale of the cyberattack, Mr Dworczyk said that as many as 70.000 emails could have been stolen from his mailbox.
Up until yesterday, no one denied the authenticity of the email in which high-level officials discuss the use of the military against protesting women. The narrative adopted by pro-government media is that Mr Dworczyk's email puts him in a favorable light because it proves him showing restraint. The same outlets also cited examples of opposition politicians known to have disregarded security measures in their communication as well.
Closed parliamentary session. "Nothing but a cover-up"
It is still unclear who exactly wanted to deploy the Territorial Defence Forces to pacify the Women’s Strike protests. In December 2020, the daily "Dziennik Gazeta Prawna" had mentioned it in one of its articles, suggesting that the initiative could have come from the inner circle of the Minister of Defense Mariusz Błaszczak.
Yesterday, at the request of the Prime Minister, the Parliament held a closed session where MPs were to learn about "the scale of cyber attacks against Poland". The opposition demanded that the session be made public. - I request that the Prime Minister immediately disclose the information in front of the cameras, in full public view. You want to cover up your own lack of competence, you want to cover up the fact that the entire country either laughs at you or trembles in fear when reading the correspondence that flows out of your mailboxes every day - said Borys Budka, leader of the Civic Platform, Poland’s largest opposition party.
- You used expendable batons against Polish women, you wanted to use the military if the protests did not go the way you’d like them, and today you are trying to cover it up, pretending to care about security. You can’t even manage to use an email account, but you want to talk about national security?- he added.
The meeting ended after 3 p.m. - It was organized in such a way as to divert attention from the fact that the government had discredited itself- said Cezary Tomczyk, Civic Coalition MP, after leaving the session.
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