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Poland: Blogger Prosecuted for Criticizing Local Mayor

Łukasz Kaprowicz, a journalist working for Fakty Mosińsko-Puszczykowskie, a local Polish newspaper, and a long-time author of the Mosina.blox.pl blog, was sued for defamation after he had criticized Zofia Springer, the mayor of Mosina, in his blog posts.

As he writes on this blog, the sentence he has received obliges him to:

  1. not work in his profession for a year
  2. pay 500 PLN fee to the Polish Red Cross
  3. 10 months of limited freedom + 300 hours of community service
  4. publish apologies in the local newspaper Głos Wielkopolski
  5. cover the cost of psychological and psychiatric tests (3 items)

Bloggers and social media users are highly critical of the prosecution and are defending the blogger. A special fan page on Facebook has been created: Popieram Łukasza Kasprowicza skazanego za bloga. Stop cenzurze władzy. (“I support sentenced blogger Łukasz Kasprowicz – stop censorship.”)

Piotr Wajszczak comments on his blog:

Communism is totally back in my city!!! I was not expecting this from the mayor, Ms. Zofia Springer. Apparently, [she] has forgotten that PRL [Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa – the People's Republic of Poland] ended years ago. Łukasz Kasprowicz was critizing the mayor's actions, but what's important is that he was doing it with high standards. He was taking quasi-successes and turning them into tough questions on his blog.

[…] I am shocked by what has happened in Mosina, and that constructive criticism may have been a reason to send a professional journalist and blogger for unemployment. […]

On the other hand, Piotr Vagla Waglowski, a blogger who writes about the Internet and law, tries to define what the term “press material” might mean for the judge and points out various scenarios in which a blog can be named “press material” or not.

If in fact Poznań's court sentenced the man for not doing his professional work as a journalist, that means that the judge thinks that self-publishing on an internet portal (on a “blog”, that is) is in fact doing this job.

Olgierd Rudak highlights different aspect of the case:

The sentenced blogger not only ran for city council with a different committee than the Mayor, but he was writing for a local magazine – and not the Merkuriusz Mosiński, which – suprise, surpise! but how typical – fully supports the mayor's actions. I think that we can say that the judge got somehow involved in a local “political honor” conflict.

Olgierd points out at the end:

To sum it all up, I think we have the first Polish blogger who was banned by a judge to write his blog.

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