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Polish reporters detained twice in three days

(GDF/IFEX) - 14 February 2011 - The scandal around the expulsion from Russia of "The Guardian" correspondent Luke Harding had barely begun to calm down when another media-related incident came to light. Petr Falkowski and Marek Borawski, reporters for the Polish newspaper "Nasz Dziennik", were detained twice by Russian law enforcers in a three-day time period.

The two journalists were initially detained while visiting the Logika (Logics) headquarters of the RF Air Forces' Military Transportation Department near Moscow. Falkowski and photographer Borawski had been assigned by the paper's editor to prepare a story about a Russian probe into the circumstances of the crash of a TU-154 airliner with Polish President Lech Kachinski on board. According to the journalists, they did not see any signs prohibiting their visit to the headquarter premises, nor had they been warned against going there by a Russian army officer whom they had spoken to on the way to the military site. According to the Regnum news agency, the reporters caught the eye of a general who was passing by. After a brief talk with them, the general called the Federal Security Service (FSB), the news agency said. After a few hours in detention, the two Polish journalists were released, but all their notes and photographs were seized.

Falkowski and Borawski were detained again at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport as they were about to depart for Warsaw on 8 February. The police searched their personal effects in the presence of FSB officers. "We were asked if we had anything to declare, and we said no," Borawski said. "They then told us to submit any information storage devices that we might have on us, like camera memory sticks, PC hard discs, Dictaphone machines, etc." The reporters' luggage was thoroughly searched and all their equipment, except their cell phones, was confiscated.

The "Nasz Dziennik" newspaper maintains that the equipment was seized in an attempt to find out who had sent the two journalists to the Logika centre, because Falkowski and Borawski refused to name their informers.

The Polish Republic's consul immediately arrived at the airport to assist the detainees. As a result, the reporters did manage to depart for Warsaw, but their confiscated equipment stayed behind in Russia. The authorities promised to return it in 20 days, after the Russian Special Services have examined the information stored on the devices.

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