Journalist begins 3-month jail term for criminal libel

New York, January 17, 2006— The Committee to Protect Journalists today called the jailing of a Polish journalist for criminal libel an affront to Polish democracy and called on the Polish president to pardon him.

“Poland is now part of democratic Europe and democracies do not jail journalists for criticizing officials,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We condemn the jailing of Andrzej Marek and call on President Kaczynski to pardon him immediately. We also call on the Polish authorities to decriminalize libel and leave redress for defamation to the civil courts as in established democracies.”

Marek, editor-in-chief of the weekly Wiesci Polickie in the northwestern town of Police, began a three-month jail term Monday in Szczecin for libeling a Police city official in 2001.

An aide to Kazcynski said the president, who is a lawyer, would examine Marek’s case, The Associated Press said.

Marek said on entering prison that he was innocent “because I told the truth,” and added that he would “wait for clemency until my last day in this prison,” AP and Agence France- Presse reported.

Background on Marek’s case.