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Polish writer faces jail for calling president “cruel”

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – A popular Polish writer faces a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison for calling the nation’s president “cruel” on social media.

Jakub ulchik criticized the reaction to President Biden’s election victory last year by Polish President Andrzej Duda, a close ally of former President Donald Trump.

On Monday, Ul Ulchik wrote on Facebook that the Warsaw District Attorney had filed an indictment against him under an article of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes insulting the head of state.

Zulchik said he believed he was “probably the first writer in this country to be tried for what he wrote.” Zulchik is known for writing a novel that has become an HBO “Blinded Light” style series.

Prosecutors based their indictment on a private individual. Duda spokesman Blazei Spichalski told Interia on Tuesday that neither the president nor his office were involved in the incident, nor did they demand that the writer be charged.

In the past, people have been accused of insulting former Polish presidents in the post-communist era under the country’s broadly offensive laws. Fines or community service, not years in prison, are the most likely punishment.

However, this is happening at a time when many in Poland see the breakdown of democratic standards as the right-wing populist Right to Justice party came to power in 2015. Critics accuse the authorities of aggressively using prosecutorial powers on behalf of those in power.

The comment in question refers to the uda’s response to Duda’s congratulatory tweet after the US media announced Biden’s election on November 7.

Duda congratulated Biden on “a successful presidential campaign.” “As we await the nomination of the Electoral College, Poland is determined to maintain a high-level, high-quality PL-US strategic partnership for an even stronger alliance.”

At Duda’s tweet, many other European leaders offered their full congratulations to Biden. At home, Duda was criticized by many for saying that Biden’s victory was somehow not final, that the Electoral College could still change the outcome.

The same day, Zulchik wrote on Facebook that as someone with a master’s degree in American Studies, he had never heard of “Electoral College nomination” in the US election. He said the Democratic candidate had clearly won the election.

“Biden is the 46th President of the United States. “Andrzej Duda is a traitor,” he wrote.

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