Polish Authorities Intimidate Journalists at Belarus Border

People in Polish Army uniform on Tuesday attacked three photojournalists working in Wiejka, a village near Michalowo, in the Podlaskie region, next to the border with Belarus, a statement put out on Wednesday by the Polish Press Club said.

The three journalists are named as Maciej Nabrdalik, a World Press Photo winner whose photos have appeared in The New York Times, Maciej Moskwa, from the documentary collective Testigo, and Martin Divisek, from the European Pressphoto Agency.

The three said the incident happened after they documented the presence of Polish armed forces around Wiejka - and that they had informed the army before taking any photos. The incident took place outside the state of the emergency zone, which blocks access of journalists to a three-kilometre-wide stretch of land along the border with Belarus.

According to the three, after they had finished their job and got back in the car to leave, people in Polish Army uniform - they never identified themselves, despite requests - blocked their path and dragged them out of the car, using obscenities.

The journalists said they were handcuffed and detained for an hour until the police came. In the meanwhile, the men in army uniforms searched the car as well as the memory cards of the camera, despite the journalists pointing out that this would breach the right to journalistic professional secrecy.

Photos posted by the Polish Press Club clearly show bruises on the wrists of the journalists, where the handcuffs would have been placed.

The incident occurred after, at the weekend, Polish police and border guards in the border area intimidated BIRN's own team on the ground, made up of this reporter and Dutch-American photojournalist Jaap Arriens.


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