People are seen at a border crossing between Poland and Ukraine on February 26, 2022. Polish authorities recently arrested Spanish journalist Pablo González after he covered refugee movements from Ukraine. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)

Spanish journalist covering Ukraine refugees detained in Poland

Berlin, March 1, 2021 — Polish authorities must immediately release Spanish freelance reporter Pablo González, explain the reasons for his arrest, and ensure that all members of the press can cover refugee movements without interference, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

In the early hours of Monday, February 28, agents with Poland’s Internal Security Agency, the country’s domestic intelligence agency, arrested González in the southeastern Polish town of Przemyśl, where he had been covering Ukrainian refugee movements, according to multiple reports by the Spanish newspaper Público, where González is a regular contributor, and his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

Boye told CPJ that the Polish prosecutor’s office confirmed the arrest and said González was being interrogated, but did not provide any further information concerning his status or the reason for his arrest.

“Polish authorities must immediately release Spanish freelance reporter Pablo González and allow him to report freely,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Authorities should ensure that reporters can cover refugee movements and other vital stories of public interest without fear of prosecution, detention, or harassment.”

González, a freelance reporter who specializes in covering the former Soviet bloc, last contacted Público on Sunday night, when he filed a report on refugees in Poland and told his editor that he was going to rest, according to those reports by the newspaper.

Previously, on February 6, agents with the Ukrainian Security Service detained Gónzalez for several hours in Kyiv and accused him of reporting from military-controlled areas in the Donbas region without proper accreditation, according to those Público reports, which said that Gónzalez denied having reported from restricted zones and was released without charge.

Público reported that Ukrainian authorities accused Gónzalez of being “pro-Russian” and advised him to leave Ukraine within three days.

Following his interrogation in Kyiv, agents with Spain’s National Intelligence Center visited Gónzalez’s friends and family members in Spain and asked about his life and career, according to Público.

CPJ emailed the Ukraine Security Service, Polish Internal Security Agency, and Spanish National Intelligence Center for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.

[Editor’s Note: The second paragraph was updated to reflect new information that González was arrested in Przemyśl, not in Rzeszów as earlier reports stated, according to a Polish Internal Security Agency statement.]