EU tells Poland to 'stop it already' with journalist intimidation
"Stop it already with this intimidation of journalists," was the message delivered to Poland on Wednesday by Frans Timmermans, the first Vice-President of the European Commission.
Timmermans was responding to media reports that a Polish journalist covering the EU for an independent Polish TV channel had become the subject of threats, slander and insults after she raised Poland's judicial reforms in the EU press briefing room last week.
According to the news website Euractiv, state-controlled Polish TV said Dorota Bawolek of Polsat had asked politically motivated questions, described as "provocations" with the intent "to harm Poland."
The coverage unleashed a torrent of messages on Twitter in which the journalist was called "snitch," "anti-Polish manipulator," and a "prostitute."
Some of these messages were reportedly also re-tweeted by members of the Polish governing party in the EU Parliament.
"What should not be happening is that journalists are intimdated to do their work," Timmermans said.
He also said that nobody who wanted to ask critical questions should feel reservation or fear for consequences: "That's not how it works in a free society."
"For democracy we need the press to be able to work unimpeded, free. That's the European way, that's how the EU can function, that is how our people can live in a free and fair and open society."
Poland's ruling party has sparked protests at home and criticism from the EU with its plan to allow parliament, rather than judges, to select the 25 members of its National Council of the Judiciary (KRS).