Prosecuting Polish Writer Who Called President “A Moron” Is Absurd
PEN America criticizes charges levied against writer and journalist Jakub Żulczyk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — Polish prosecutors have filed charges against writer and journalist Jakub Żulczyk for calling the country’s president a “moron” on social media. PEN America today condemned those absurd charges, called for them to be dropped immediately, and said Poland’s raft of laws penalizing such “public insults” are an affront to free expression.
“These charges are an absurd violation of free expression, and show how undeniably dangerous insult laws are in the hands of an increasingly repressive Polish regime,” said Polina Sadovskaya, director of Eurasia programs at PEN America. “In a truly democratic society, everyone is free to express criticisms of their government, even if the discourse is at times upsetting. Żulczyk should not be prosecuted for expressing his views on social media, and as a journalist, his freedom to report and write should be protected. The ludicrous charges against him must be dropped.”
Shortly after the election of U.S. President Joe Biden, Polish President Andrzej Duda stopped short of congratulating Biden on his win and mischaracterizing the U.S. electoral college system. In response, Żulczyk took to social media, lambasting the president for suggesting that Biden’s victory was not definitive and writing, “Andrzej Duda is a moron.”
If convicted, Żulczyk could face up to three years in prison, which is the maximum penalty for publicly insulting the president of Poland. In 2017, research by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe found that Poland had the highest number of defamation and insult laws of any of the 57 countries surveyed. PEN America closely follows attacks on free expression in Poland, including recent attempts to silence voices of women artists at the film festival HER DOCS.