The Journalist Stranded in Europe’s "Guantᮡmo" — Global Issues

Pablo González on his previous trip to Ukraine.  Credit: Juan Teixeira/IPS
Pablo González on his previous trip to Ukraine. Credit: Juan Teixeira/IPS
  • by Karlos Zurutuza (Nabarniz, Spain)
  • Associated Press Service

González was arrested on the night of February 27 in Przemysl, a Polish city bordering Ukraine. As a journalist specializing in post-Soviet space, this reporter has worked in Ukraine many times and he is planning to cross the border to cover the Russian invasion of the country that was launched a few days ago. there.

Three days after his arrest, the Polish government released a statement that the Internal Security Service (ABW) had arrested González “on suspicion of carrying out activities for the benefit of Russia, taking advantage of his status as an agent of the Russian Federation.” his journalist.”

“They say they have ‘irrefutable proof’ that he is a spy, but no one has seen it yet. Oihana Goiriena, González’s partner, told IPS from her residence in Nabarniz, Spain’s Basque Country.

After the latest three-month extension granted by the court dealing with the case, Polish authorities have yet to make public the evidence they claim to have against the journalist. His lawyer in Poland is not authorized to speak publicly about the case, has no trial date and even no formal charges against González.

“He lost a lot of weight, but the worst thing for him was being in solitary confinement, not being able to talk to anyone all day,” explains Goiriena, 47. She was able to visit him on November 21 of last year. A Polish security officer oversaw the reunion that Goiriena had arrived in Poland.

González could not make phone calls and had to rely on correspondence to communicate with the outside world. However, the letters need to be translated and filtered by Polish security first, and a reply can take up to four months. Goiriena said: “Two letters to reach him and two more to receive his letter. And her 3 children “haven’t seen their father for a long time”.

Goiriena described the Spanish Government’s response to the incident as “warm”.

“So far we have only been in contact with the Spanish consul in Warsaw, no one else has reassured us or shared any hints,” she said.

The reason González was dragged to a cell in Poland, she said, remains unclear. Goiriena believes her partner’s two Russian and Spanish passports have set off alarm bells in Warsaw.

The son of a Russian and the grandson of an exile during the Spanish Civil War, Pablo González was born in Moscow in 1982 as Pavel Rubtsov. When his parents separated eight years later, the child was left to his mother – the niece of another Spaniard in exile – who returned to Spain and enrolled her school-age son. Her name is Pablo, a Spanish translation by Pavel, and under her last name. His name is Gonzalez.

In addition, Goiriena said that her partner’s report may also have attracted the attention of Polish officials. “Pablo previously worked a lot in Poland, covering stories like anti-government protests, threats facing the LGTBI community or Migration crisis on the border of Belaruswhere people are left to die in the cold in the “no man’s land” between the two countries,” she said..

“He was a ‘nasty’ journalist,” for Polish officials, she said. “I think they’ve gone too far and now they don’t know how to get out of this.”

administrative silence

A Polish lawyer was hired in April 2022 and Goiriena sought advice from a criminal justice panel in the country last October. However, González’s main lawyer since his arrest has been Gonzalo Boye.

A Chilean living in Spain for over three decades, Boye is an expert in European International Law who has been involved in a number of high profile cases including the 11 March 2004 jihadist bombings. into Madrid’s Atocha train station and the Edward Snowden denunciation, among others.

Speaking to IPS by phone from Madrid, he said González’s arrest was “unprecedented” in the European Union. “It’s an unsustainable case, one of those cases where someone is arrested and then investigated.” Boye is still not allowed to visit his clients.

Boye said: “Neither Brussels nor Madrid lifted a finger, their only response so far has been silence. Declaring institutional indifference to what he described as “a sort of Guantánamo within the European Union”, he referred a request for protection to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

“Europe has frankly sided with Ukraine and Poland is key in the conflict. Pablo González was just another victim of that war,” argued Boye, in an attempt to find the logic for González’s arrest in Poland.

Beside a communication struggling to clarify the case, a number of individuals and experts in the field of media and law have asked Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain to participate more in the resolution of the case.

Responding to repeated attempts to contact IPS, the Spanish Foreign Ministry stated via email that the Spanish embassy in Warsaw “has been keeping an eye on the incident and is monitoring it closely”.

The statement said González had the opportunity to receive consular assistance and had received seven visits, with “the next one expected to take place soon”.

“At all times, the Polish authorities have always emphasized the need to respect their rights. In addition, efforts have been made at different levels regarding his case, conveying the same message,” the ministry said in its statement.


The war in Ukraine has turned Poland into a major hub for all kinds of goods in Ukraine – from basic food items to high-tech weapons – and a major outlet for millions of refugees fleeing. escape war. It is the nation at the center of a conflict whose consequences are felt globally.

However, Poland’s role in the conflict did not prevent the gradual deterioration of its democracy.

In 2022 reportThe US NGO Freedom House says Poland has the fastest decline in democracy among the 29 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia tracked by the organization.

“I don’t remember a case similar to that of Pablo González in the European Union,” Alfonso Bauluz, president of Reporters Without Borders in Spain, told IPS by phone from Madrid.

While pointing out the “complicated scenario” caused by the war in Ukraine, he also stressed that Poland is “one of the EU countries that has tough measures against information diversity.”

“For Poland, it has been eight consecutive years of decline in World Press Freedom Index we release at RSF,” emphasized Bauluz. The Eastern European country ranks 66th (behind only Cyprus, Mauritius and Montenegro) in the list of 180 countries.

On January 10, RSF Spain call again because “the cruelty of prison is over for Pablo González”, that his presumption of innocence is respected and that “all guarantees for a fair trial” are met.

Oihana Goiriena said: “All I want is a trial as soon as possible, whether public or private, but as soon as possible. Although the journalist’s partner is confident that his innocence will eventually be proven and he will be released, she also emphasizes that the damage has already been done:

“In a few weeks, he will be in jail for a year. In addition, the payment of our lawyers and expenses has left us in debt for a long time, not to mention the professional damage it has caused a journalist specializing in the post-Soviet space.”

© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service


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