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One year in prison without trial: The ordeal of Spanish reporter Pablo González in Poland

Spanish freelance journalist Pablo González has been in custody in Poland for one year on charges of spying for Russia, with no trial date set and no evidence disclosed by the authorities. His lawyer and supporters have denounced his detention as a violation of his human rights and press freedom.

González, who specializes in covering the former Soviet bloc, was arrested by Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ISA) on February 28, 2022, in the town of Przemyśl, where he had been reporting on Ukrainian refugees. He was accused of using his role as a journalist as a cover for espionage, but the ISA has not publicly presented any proof to support its allegations.

Since his arrest, González has been held in pre-trial detention in Warsaw, mostly in solitary confinement and under harsh conditions. He has been classified as a “dangerous prisoner” by the Polish authorities, despite having no criminal record. He is handcuffed and accompanied by up to five guards every time he leaves his cell. He does not receive enough food and has to buy provisions from the prison. His letters are opened and translated by the prosecutor and kept for weeks or months before they are delivered. He has had contact only with his Polish lawyer and the Spanish consul but has been denied phone calls or visits from family and supporters in Spain and Poland.

González’s lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, has filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, seeking his release on the grounds that the terms of his imprisonment contravene his constitutional rights. According to Boye, González lives in “physically and mentally unbearable conditions” that undermine “his rights, his dignity and his health”.

Boye also said that the Polish prosecutor’s office has not provided any evidence of González’s alleged espionage activities or any indication of when his trial will start. He said that the case is based on “rumors” and “speculations” and that González is innocent of any wrongdoing.

González’s detention has sparked protests and solidarity campaigns from media organizations, journalists’ unions, human rights groups and politicians in Spain and abroad. They have called on the Polish authorities to release González and respect his right to report freely. They have also urged the Spanish government to intervene diplomatically to secure his freedom.

González’s case is seen by some as part of a wider crackdown on independent journalism and civil society in Poland, which has been criticized by the European Union and international organizations for undermining the rule of law and democracy.

González’s wife, Oihana Goiriena, who has not seen him since his arrest, said that he is “a victim of political persecution” and that he is “paying a very high price for doing his job”.

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