May 22, 2024

Judge flees to Belarus – Tusk warns of secret services

After a Polish judge fled to authoritarian Belarus, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk warned of the activities of hostile secret services in his country. “We must not underestimate the importance of this matter,” Tusk said on Tuesday in Katowice on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting. He added that the Belarusian intelligence services worked with a person who had access to the former Minister of Justice and was partly responsible for the destruction of the Polish justice system, referring to the judge.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.Image: Cornerstone

Belarusian media reported on Monday that Judge Tomasz Smidt of the Warsaw District Administrative Court had requested asylum in Belarus. Smidt said in Minsk, according to the state news agency Belta, that he personally asked Governor Alexander Lukashenko for “care and protection.” The judge justified his move by saying that he did not agree with the policies of the current Polish government and was therefore being threatened. Smidt praised Lukashenko as a “very wise leader” and warned that the United States wanted to drag Poland into an armed conflict.

The Polish Prosecutor’s Office has now launched an investigation against the judge on suspicion of working for a foreign intelligence service. Prime Minister Tusk called his government ministers responsible for security to a special meeting on Wednesday.

The relationship between the European Union, NATO country Poland and neighboring country Belarus has been tense for a long time. Poland is one of the most important military supporters of Ukraine, which is under Russian attack. Belarus is a close ally of Moscow.

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Judge Schmidt had already made headlines in Poland in 2019. The nationalist conservative PiS government, which held power from 2015 to 2023, caused a lot of unrest among Polish judges with its controversial judicial reforms. Smidt and his then wife took part in a smear campaign on social media against judges who criticized the PiS government’s plans. The Public Prosecution is still investigating the matter to this day.

According to Polish Justice Minister Adam Bodnar, Smidt also had access to confidential documents in his capacity as a judge at the District Administrative Court in Warsaw. (DAP/EPA)

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