‘I was shifted from one detention centre to another one’
Exclusive: Poland's political prisoner Mateusz Piskorski in his first international interview for FreeWestMedia, speaks about the accusations against him, about the conditions in Polish prisons and about this hopes and ideas for future Poland.
Published: July 20, 2019, 10:57 am
Mr. Piskorski, you’ve been released from jail after three year long detention. What has caused such a decision?
Pirskorski: I really cannot guess which of numerous arguments had been the most vital for my release. Of course, I’d like to pass my thanks and respect to all those independently thinking European politicians, experts, activists and journalists, who have supported me. I’d like to think that their endeavors have really convinced decision-makers in Poland to finally release me from jail.
Nevertheless, the reality is, that since 2015 Poland has become a semi-authoritarian state, being at the same time a colony and subject of geopolitical games of the United States. Thus I can presume, that the Polish government hasn’t cared for opinions voiced in Europe in defense of free speech.
I’ll give you an example: in Spring 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of Human Rights Commission at the United Nations, released a report on my case, demanding Polish authorities not only to release me from confinement, but pay me a compensation and demand responsibility from those, who had decided my arrest. There has been virtually no reaction from the Polish side, and the UN hasn’t had any response, although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked them to postpone the deadline for such a response.
One of ruling party’s experts publicly called for dissolvement of UN Human Rights Commission. This undoubtedly shows the level of intellectual inferiority of the current Polish ruling party.
The Law and Justice Party (PiS) has been praised by some Eurosceptic movements all over Europe lately…
Piskorski: Yes, and that is a problem. This comes from a total lack of understanding in Western Europe of what is happening in Central Europe, particularly in Poland. I know that it’s not a priority for European politicians to study the Polish party system, but anyway before they voice their unconditional support for someone, they should learn a little bit more.
Some praise the Polish government for its resistance to the flood of immigration. But ask yourself a question: are there any migrants, who would be willing to stay in a peripheral country with non-existing social policy? On the other hand, check the number of Ukrainians working legally and illegally here, and you’ll get around 3,5 million. And, as the Ukrainians are no more interested in being cheap labour force here and intend to move westwards, the Polish government opens the country for new immigration, particularly from South Asia (Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal) and South East Asia (the Philippines).
So, all this supposed resistance against EU policy is fake, as the Polish government is under strong influence of international corporations willing to cut their costs of labour. Don’t forget, it’s headed by former banking sector manager, Mateusz Morawiecki. Some have also praised Law and Justice for opposing EU bureaucracy. Yes, there is a kind of conflict, however this conflict comes from one and very simple fact: Warsaw gets its orders – also when it comes to European policy – from the US embassy.
So this is not the ruling party’s will to get back a piece of sovereignty, but rather the case of choosing another command centre. To all those who would like to see an emancipation of Europe from American influences, I can only launch an appeal: Law and Justice is much worse than European mainstream parties, because it abuses patriotic rhetoric to bring new US military bases into Europe, and to spread the idea of confrontation between Europe and Russia.
Actually, neoconservative hawks from Washington are running this country, which is quite dangerous for all Europeans, making Poland a Trojan horse on the continent. And, when it comes to the Germans, I just want to remind them, that Kaczynski and his party are openly stepping into conflict with Berlin, demanding billions of war compensations from the German budget.
I’m sure, they are just following orders from Washington, trying to isolate Poland from all its neighbors, including Germany. The Polish demands seem quite absurd, and they actually are, but still the main goal here is to spoil Polish-German relations. I guess it would be enough to check what Law and Justice politicians publicly say in Poland about the French Rassemblement National or Italian Lega, or to discover that they openly call Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) a neo-Nazi party. So don’t pretend that it’s raining, when they spitting in your face!
Back to your case, so you’ve been released from jail on May 16 after three years of imprisonment…
Piskorski: Yes. I suppose there have been three basic scenarios possible here, but I don’t have any idea which one of the explanations below could be the most realistic one. First, you have to know that the whole case against me was purely political, and – as some mainstream media outlets have admitted – it has been coordinated by American intelligence.
Thus, it’s quite possible, that the Americans have come to a conclusion, that the whole thing is useless from their point of view and ordered my release. Second, Polish history shows, that the whole country – regardless of the political system, which is currently adopted – is quite chaotic, and from the institutional point of view, it’s rather hard to control.
That was true for instance in the so-called communist times, when the Soviets seemed to unable to implement communism here, because of low level of governance. The same might be now – the system is chaotic and ineffective, and therefore someone had made a mistake, perhaps by exerting too little pressure on the court, which was to decide the prolongation of my arrest. Third, the explanation might be even more simple – they might have come to a conclusion, that I no longer pose a threat to the regime.
I fear we’ll not learn the correct answer to your question in the coming years. We should organize a professional investigation into the whole case, which is impossible in present conditions, as the existing regime of neoconservative Atlanticists is going to stay in power for another couple of years here.
Are you now a really free man? What were the conditions of your release?
Piskorski: Sometimes I joke that I was put into just another one detention centre, this time a little bit bigger, but still quite hard to live in. Being in anti-system politics in an authoritarian regime, is not a comfortable way of life.
The regime is trying to destroy you by depriving you of everything. All my savings and property was confiscated back in 2016. Of course, I’ve submitted a complaint against this decision by the National Prosecutor’s Office, but the court hasn’t made any decision for almost two years. This means, that in contemporary Poland everyone can be effectively deprived of his/her property, while waiting several years for a court’s ruling.
My family and friends had to take out some loans just to provide a sufficient amount given in the court’s decision to release me on bail. It was around 50 000 euro, which is quite a big amount, considering that I’ve been deprived of any possibility to earn a life for three years now.
Because the state-run media had already presented me as being guilty of cooperation with Russian intelligence, I cannot find any job here. Of course, it would be quite easy, considering my professional experience, to find something abroad, however I have had a travel ban imposed on me, which makes it impossible for me to leave the territory of Poland.
And since I founded the Zmiana (Change) political party in 2015, they have also decided to freeze all my public activities, by prohibiting any contact with my closest comrades and collaborators. The prosecutor has compiled a list of potential witnesses comprising of over 60 people, most of them having nothing in common with the accusations against me.
So the goal was quite obvious: to make it impossible for me to run any legal organisation I’ve co-established. So, of course, it’s still better than in a prison cell, but I’m still not free. On the other hand, I have to share the same limits that several millions of Polish citizens are facing, as Poland has become semi-authoritarian, peripheral state and it affects all its citizens somehow.
How long will this situation go on?
Piskorski: I could answer with another question: how long will Poland be a subject of external control by American neocons? I honestly don’t know. From the legal point of view: my court case started in 2018, and so far we’re still interrogating and questioning the first witness, an anonymous officer of the Agency of Internal Security (Polish counterintelligence service and political police).
I guess the first witness will be giving his testimony till the end of this year. Then we have to interrogate another 60 people. Therefore, the trial might take several years. Then we will probably follow the proceedings at the Appeal Court, and then back to District Court.
No one has been in hurry since my release, because they seem to have come to a dead end. They cannot simply admit I was not guilty, because I’ve lost three years of my life behind the bars. They cannot claim I was guilty, because the deeds they accuse me of are not illegal in Poland, according to present laws.
The courts might have had pressure from both sides. On the one hand, they have the existing regime with its executive authorities (prosecutor, secret services), and on the other – there’s International Human Rights Court, the UN and other international institutions, which would probably react in case I am to be sentenced.
Thus, the best way now is to wait, and to see what happens next – in politics, in the judiciary system, in international relations. I perfectly understand their point of view. Nevertheless, I still hope that in due time the Law and Justice politicians and their collaborators in state structures will pay for what they’ve done to me and my family. I hope they’ll meet a warm welcome in Polish prisons in the future…
How was the time in prison?
Piskorski: Polish prisons are far below any international standards in all neighboring countries. You cannot compare conditions there with those in Germany, France or Russia. The Polish system is based on the American model, which is intended to humiliate you and deprive you of all basic rights.
I’m going to launch an NGO, which would take care of those things in Poland. After Law and Justice came into power, the number of detainees rose by 60 percent compared to 2015, so the problem concerns thousands of Polish citizens, their relatives and families.
Already while being inside, I’ve tried to activate people who have been victims of this system, including those falsely accused by corrupt and amateur prosecutors, repressed by several special police units, or blackmailed.
The whole system has not only to be modified, but deeply and thoroughly changed. One cannot even imagine the level of injustice and human rights violations, which remind more of some Latin American autocracies than European countries. As a person, who has been always publicly active, I’ve tried to organize people there, behind the walls. We even managed to achieve some small improvements, when it comes to certain conditions, however it’s far from enough…
Were you permitted to follow the news while being in prison?
Piskorski: Well, it’s quite hard there, as you don’t have any Internet access. The only sources are TV and newspapers. Unfortunately, only a few TV channels were available there, mostly those covering governmental propaganda. If one has some funds, newspapers can be ordered as well, although there’s a limited list of those available, mainly the mainstream printed media.
I was lucky to have some friends, who sent me printed articles and journals. Unfortunately, the prosecutor – suspicious of all foreign language publications – censored all German and English journals sent to me, and I simply didn’t get them, although I know, that they had been sent to me, including Zuerst!.
I also wanted to publish some articles, not necessarily concerning my case, and asked for a notebook, as I wanted to finish some of my books, including scientific research. Of course, the prosecutor did not agree, which clearly shows that the real reason behind my arrest was to shut my mouth.
Was it possible for your relatives to visit you while in prison?
Piskorski: It was possible, but still, visiting a Polish jail must be a traumatic experience for everyone from outside. That’s why my contact with relatives used to be quite limited.
Actually, what are you officially being accused of?
Piskorski: My case is completely unique not only in Polish, but in the whole European legal environment. I’m accused of deeds, which – according to criminal law and universal standards – are not a legal offense. Thus Polish authorities have violated an old Latin rule nullum crimen sine lege (no law – no crime).
They have accused me of cooperation with a foreign intelligence service against the interests of Republic of Poland. Article 130 of Polish criminal codex defines it as espionage. But what is espionage? According to all commonly known definitions and all existing vocabularies, it is about passing secret information about one country to the intelligence units of another one.
The same definition can be found among academic scholars and researchers, as well as professors of law. And this is not what only my lawyers and I claim, but this is the opinion of Warsaw University Faculty of Law academics, experts and the United Nations.
The charges against me have nothing to do with collecting and passing any secret information to anyone.
The whole case is about – to quote the National Prosecutor’s Office – about “influencing public opinion” and “taking part in the information war” by voicing political positions and calling for certain political solutions. According to the Polish state, a call to leave NATO, opposing US military presence, protests against Ukrainian nationalism and calling for economic cooperation with the Russian Federation, and for lifting the sanctions, is an activity against the interests of Poland, and as such may be perceived as a crime.
Their paranoid thesis is, that all Russian politicians, journalists, experts are somehow connected to Russian intelligence. Thus, any kind of cooperation with Russian entities (be it private persons or political organisations, MPs, NGOs) equals cooperation with the intelligence services, FSB and SWR.
One could say that it’s absurd, it’s something from Kafka’s Trial and one would be right, but this is reality in contemporary Poland, the most anti-Russian and pro-US country in today’s Europe…
So you’ve been charged with political activity…
Piskorski: Exactly. Of doing legal work as an expert, journalist, and of establishing a political party.
The whole of Europe seems to be on some type of “purge” against Eurosceptic journalists, activists and academics, all those who share a positive opinion about their Russian neighbors. Do you see a pattern there also in your own case?
Piskorski: They accused me of taking part in the so-called information war. This notion hasn’t been well defined neither in legal terms nor in social sciences. Anyway, if we define it – as most experts do – as a kind of info-manipulation of one state or group of states versus another state, then we’ll have the whole picture of what the US-controlled part of Europe is currently doing.
My case was probably launched as a kind of experiment, a test, of which the aim was to check out how far you can go with violating basic human rights without the risk of an international reaction. After my case was started, several people were charged and detained as well.
The whole experiment has been taking place in authoritarian or semi-authoritarian Central European regimes. After my case, there was the case of prof Alexander Gaponenko in Latvia and of Algirdas Paleckis in Lithuania. Another cases may follow, probably in three EU countries – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. If they succeed here, they might start a similar repression in other European countries.
So you think it may also start in the so-called “old EU”?
Piskorski: Well, it’s quite possible, at least if the US grip continues. For the moment, they use the Polish state to repress not just Polish citizens, but also others. Take a look at the case of Manuel Ochsenreiter, a German citizen, who has been falsely accused by Polish prosecutors.
The only strange thing for me, is that German authorities take Polish activities seriously. I mean, every mainstream politician in Germany knows and admits publicly, that there is no rule of law in Poland. It’s quite obvious.
However, they respect and treat the demands of Polish prosecutors concerning a German citizen seriously. This means that the Polish authoritarian state is capable of repressing citizens of other EU countries. It seems absurd, but unfortunately this is true.
So all activities which are hard to imagine in a democratic country, that are a clear violation of human rights, are being done as a “dirty job” by Polish thugs from the Polish political police and National Prosecutor’s Office. It really sounds ridiculous, but it seems to be true.
Is this already the climax of this ongoing conflict between the mainstream governments and their critics – or is there yet more to come?
Piskorski: Well, I know that many in Europe think of the EU bureaucracy imposing various solutions and demanding implementation of several, to say the least, annoying standards, as the worst problem nowadays.
Nevertheless, in my personal opinion the worst and most dangerous problem of Europe is, that it’s to a large extent controlled by an external superpower – the United States. Counting on Donald Trump, thinking that he might be someone independent, is the wrong solution.
The US is and will be controlled by the so-called deep state. And the interests of its representatives are completely different from the interests of Europe. Just think about who has caused the so-called Arab Spring, who caused the whole migration problem. The old geopolitical concept of US policy-makers like Zbigniew Brzezinski in the past, was based on the “Anakonda strategy”, which was an idea to encircle Europe, Russia and China with chaos and instability on their borders.
That is what the US has done in the Middle East, in Central Asia, in North Africa. To be honest, I would suggest to those who are against immigration, to load the immigrants onto trans-Atlantic ships and send to the American East Coast. They have caused the problem, let them cope with immigration. The same goes for the trouble with Ukraine, and the whole conflict with Russia, which was ignited and inspired by the US and in their interest.
That is why I claim, that first we should think about the liberation of Europe, about eradicating external influences here, and only then about reforming and reshaping European integration.
The Polish puppet-state might seem Eurosceptic, but it’s not. Poland supports the ideal of sovereign nation-states just because for the time being it is somehow part of an American interest to destabilize Europe – by having some semi-autocratic, unpredictable and destructive regimes in this part of Europe.
When you look at Poland’s foreign policy, based on provoking a conflict with Russia, you’ll clearly see that. So, in terms of geopolitics, we have the following situation: every endeavor to liberate Europe, to propose something like a continental empire will be sabotaged by Warsaw, and possibly its smaller allies in the East.
Therefore, it’s in the interest of Western European countries either to exert a certain pressure on the Polish regime, or to oust Poland from the European Union. Frankly speaking, I’m little bit dissapointed in European Euroceptics, who seem not to understand those simple facts.
That’s why I hope, that my example will be clear proof of the above opinion. And I hope, we’ll all be able to show our solidarity with other politically repressed activists all over Europe, regardless of their political background. Because, when it comes to our prospects in the coming years, I really fear, that the anti-system political forces and circles in Europe may face all kinds of pressure, including the autocratic means now being used in Poland.
Mr. Piskorski, thank you for the interview and good luck!
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