Poland’s deputy minister of justice has resigned and a senior official from his department was dismissed after evidence emerged of a campaign of alleged harassment, intimidation and blackmail coordinated from within the justice ministry against judges resisting government efforts to take control of the Polish judiciary.
Łukasz Piebiak, who served as deputy of minister of justice with responsibility for the judiciary, resigned on Tuesday after Onet, a news portal, published alleged communications via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger with a woman identified in the Polish press only as “Emilia”.
In one of the alleged exchanges, Emilia outlines a plan to discredit Krystian Markiewicz, a judge and law professor who serves as the head of Iustitia, an association of Polish judges that has been fiercely critical of attempts by the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) to assert direct control over the appointment, promotion and discipline of all the country’s judges.
The plan consisted of circulating a lurid four-page dossier of unsubstantiated allegations about Markiewicz’s private life. Responding to Emilia’s suggestion, Piebiak is alleged to have written: “I think it will help. It is important that it sweeps through Iustitia to let them know who we are dealing with. People will spread it, and Markiewicz will fade away, knowing what we have on him.”
You can read my report for the Guardian here.