Poland leak: PM Tusk faces questions in parliament

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Sowa i Przyjaciele has been named as one of the restaurants where recording took place

A scandal over leaked recordings of top officials in Poland is going to parliament as Prime Minister Donald Tusk prepares to defend his ministers.

Mr Tusk faces questions over embarrassing remarks attributed to his Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, about close allies the US and UK.

In another leaked tape, the country's top banker discusses the next election with the interior minister.

Investigations continue into how Wprost magazine obtained the recordings.

Published by the magazine over the past two weeks, they were made in one or more restaurants in the capital, Warsaw, and are believed to date back as far as last summer.

Wprost's chief editor, Sylwester Latkowski, was being questioned on Tuesday as a witness in the inquiry after he resisted attempts to search the magazine's office and computers last week.

Mr Sikorski has not denied the remarks, accompanied by obscenities, that have been attributed to him. Central bank governor Marek Belka has said he will not resign over the remarks he is alleged to have said.

The conservative opposition party, Law and Justice, is calling for Mr Tusk's centre-right coalition to resign but correspondents say this is unlikely at present.

The scandal is especially embarrassing for Poland, the biggest of the former Soviet bloc states to join the EU, as it celebrates 25 years of freedom, marking the overthrow of its communist government and first, semi-free elections in 1989.

'Organised crime'

The Sejm, or lower house of parliament, is assembling for a three-day debate on the issue, state radio reports.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Warsaw in November

In one recording, Mr Sikorski can apparently be heard saying Poland's relationship with the US would prove worthless in the event of a crisis involving Germany or Russia: "It is downright harmful because it creates a false sense of security."

As heard on the tape, he also ridicules UK Prime Minister David Cameron's immigration policy and views on the EU.

Mr Sikorski, Poland's nominee to replace Catherine Ashton as EU foreign policy chief, also uses obscene and possibly racist language, according to the transcript published by Wprost.

Defending himself this week, he said the government had come under attack from an as yet unidentified "organised crime group".

In the earlier leak, Wprost published the content of an alleged private conversation in which Poland's top banker discussed the next election with Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz.

Under Polish law, the central bank must remain independent of politics.

Prime Minister Tusk has already said he will not dismiss officials whose compromising conversations were caught on tape in what he called a "criminal" action by "ill-intentioned people".

"The Polish government will not be dictated to by people who illegally planted these bugs... whether by ill-will, naivety, greed or to serve political interests," he told journalists on Monday.

One theory is that the conversations were recorded for purposes of blackmail.

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