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Polish writer faces possible prison time for calling president a ‘moron’

Screenwriter Jakub Zulczyk charged with ‘an act of public insult’ for Facebook post criticizing Andrzej Duda’s tweet about US election

On Feb. 6, 2018, Polish President Andrzej Duda announces his decision to sign legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust, in Warsaw, Poland. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz, File)
On Feb. 6, 2018, Polish President Andrzej Duda announces his decision to sign legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust, in Warsaw, Poland. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz, File)

WARSAW, Poland — A Polish writer faces a possible prison sentence for insulting President Andrzej Duda by calling him a “moron” over comments the latter made about US President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Jakub Zulczyk, who is the screenwriter behind the popular series “Blinded by the Lights” and “Belfer,” said that prosecutors had charged him under an article in the criminal code for insulting the head of state in a Facebook post.

“I am, I suspect, the first writer in this country in a very long time to be tried for what he wrote,” he said on Facebook.

In his post on November 7 last year, the writer commented on a curiously worded tweet in which Duda congratulated Biden for his “successful presidential campaign” but said he was waiting for “the nomination by the Electoral College.”

US President Donald Trump meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, June 24, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Duda, who is supported by the populist right-wing Law and Justice (Pis) party, was a close ally of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump who unsuccessfully contested the election result.

Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, a spokeswoman for Warsaw district prosecutors, told Polish news agency PAP on Monday that charges had been filed against a man, naming him only as “Jakub Z.”

“The defendant was accused of committing an act of public insult on 7 November last year on a social networking website against the President of the Republic of Poland, by using a term commonly recognized as insulting,” the spokeswoman said.

She added that the charge had been filed earlier this month and that the suspect had been questioned but “did not admit to committing the alleged act and gave explanations.”

Polish President and candidate for Poland’s president of main ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) Andrzej Duda greets supporters during a campaign meeting ahead of the presidential election in Plonsk, central Poland on June 16, 2020. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP)

“He indicated that the statement constituted a critical assessment of the president’s actions,” she said.

In his post, published in the days immediately after the November 3 election, Zulczyk said that “there is no such thing as ‘nomination by the Electoral College,'” adding that Biden’s confirmation as US president was “a mere formality.”

“Andrzej Duda is a moron,” the post said.

Poland has been criticized repeatedly for its different insult laws, including one on offending religious feeling and another on insulting the flags of Poland or other countries.

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