Gonzalez, a journalist specializing in the post-Soviet world, is a regular contributor to the Spanish daily Público and has been reporting on the Ukrainian refugee crisis from the border of Ukraine and Poland for several Spanish media outlets, including La Sexta TV. The arrest was carried out by agents of the Polish security services (ABW) in the early hours of Monday 28 February, his lawyer confirmed on Twitter.
He later confirmed that the authorities had justified the arrest, saying Gonzalez had “carried out actions against the Polish state”. In early February, Gonzalez was interrogated by Ukrainian security forces, accused of being a “pro-Russian” for his work with Gara newspaper but was released shortly afterwards and asked to leave the country. In Poland, a spying charge carries up to ten years in prison.
“Since his arrest, we have asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take all steps to ensure that Pablo Gonzalez is released,” said Nemesio Rodriguez, President of the Federation of Spanish Journalists’ Associations (FAPE).
FSC-CCOO has called for his immediate release and said that the humanitarian crisis that Poland is experiencing due to the arrival of Ukrainian refugees cannot be “an excuse for not respecting the freedom of the press and journalists.”
“We also want to appeal to the Spanish and worldwide media about the working and safety conditions in which journalists are being sent to cover the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Most of them are poorly paid freelancers with no insurance or protection. Some of them have to work for three media outlets at the same time to make ends meet,” adds the union.
The Federation of Journalists’ Trade unions (FeSP) has also called for Gonzalez's release so that he can continue to report, adding that “the Polish authorities must give explanations for such an anti-democratic outrage”.
The association of Journalists in Spain (UGT) has demanded that the Spanish government take the necessary steps with the Polish government for the immediate release of Pablo González and has stated that the “accusation of espionage does not hold water, so we understand it has been a misunderstanding and that Gonzalez must be released as soon as possible”.
The President of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, assured in Congress that consular protection would be provided to the Spanish reporter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Público newspaper that consular help to the Basque journalist had already begun: “there has already been telephone contact with him from the Consulate, once the Polish Prosecutor’s Office has informed us of the situation of this prisoner.”
The Federations call on the Polish government to drop all charges against Pablo Gonzalez and release him without further delay. It is unacceptable for a member state of the European Union to detain a journalist in such an arbitrary manner. It is an attack on press freedom and democracy.
Polish authorities have ordered Pablo Gonzalez to be remanded in custody until 29 May.