A Polish judge seeks asylum in Belarus citing political persecution

Tomasz Szmydt, a judge at the provincial administrative court in Warsaw, has fled to Belarus, asserting that he is seeking asylum due to political persecution in Poland. 

Szmydt claims his opposition to the Polish government’s policies has led to his victimisation, accusing the authorities of pushing the country towards conflict under the influence of the United States and Great Britain.

The judge, known for his involvement in a contentious case under the former Law and Justice (PiS) government, alleges that figures associated with the justice ministry orchestrated a smear campaign against judges critical of PiS’s judicial reforms, including himself and his ex-wife. 

I was persecuted and intimidated for my independent political stance,” he continued […] I am expressing my protest to the Polish authorities who, under the influence of the USA and Great Britain, are leading the country to war” – Szmydt wrote on Telegram. 

Szmydt recently made headlines by holding a press conference at the headquarters of BelTA, the state-owned Belarusian news agency known for its alignment with President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime. His statements mirrored the rhetoric of the Minsk government.

Szmydt reiterated his claims of persecution in Poland, lauding Belarus as an „open and friendly country” and praising Lukashenko as a „very wise leader” who has contributed to regional stability, according to BelTA. He also accused the West of attempting to undermine Belarus. During the conference, Szmydt announced his resignation as a judge and appealed to Belarusian authorities for protection.

Tensions between Poland and Belarus have escalated in recent years. Poland welcomed Belarusian refugees amid protests against Lukashenko’s contested presidential election victory in 2020. Two years later, Belarus facilitated the movement of migrants and refugees, mainly from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, towards the Polish border, in what was termed a „hybrid attack” by Polish and EU authorities.

 

Image: X (@Szmydt_Tomasz)

Author: Sébastien Meuwissen

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