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Mapping Media Freedom, the platform monitoring attempts to silence critical coverage and threats to the safety of journalists, published an alert on the recent allegations made against the Onet journalist Bartłomiej Bublewicz and his camera operator.
The journalists wanted to report on the situation near the border area with Belarus controversially placed under a state of emergency. Since no border patrol officers controlled them, they drove all the way to the border. After the news portal Onet published their report, both the journalist and the camera operator were charged on two counts. The first concerns staying in a prohibited area, the second - "illegally filming border infrastructure".
Journalists charged for reporting on the border crisis
The media watchdog notes that the allegations have been denied by Onet and condemned by various international media freedom organizations. The platform quotes Paweł Ławiński, Onet’s deputy CEO, who accuses the Polish government of trying to prevent the media from reporting on the situation at the border.
Lawyers for Ringier Axel Springer Polska, Onet's publisher, say that Mr Bublewicz's material did not violate the law because the footage does not show any military equipment, posts or border fences. "The material on which the allegations are based does not show the border infrastructure anywhere, and the journalists have not even reached the border. Therefore, they could not record its appearance using technical means", said Jakub Kudła, a lawyer for the RASP Group. -The second objection is also incomprehensible. After all, journalists were fulfilling their employee duties for an entity that operates throughout Poland, and therefore also in the area covered by the state of emergency- he added.
MMF’s alert also says that Onet will fight the allegations in court. "I don't feel that we have broken the law in any way. That's the last thing a journalist would want to do" –said Mr Bublewicz.
On September 2, the Polish government imposed a state of emergency in 183 local areas located near the border with Belarus. In practice, it means restrictions on many civil rights and freedoms, including those of the media, which have been banned from the border zone area.
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