FREE PABLO GONZÁLEZ – 10 MONTHS DETAINED WITHOUT TRIAL

Publico.es (rough translation by D.Breatnach)

(Reading time report & comment: 6 mins.)

On February 28, Pablo González was detained by the Polish secret services on the border with Ukraine while he was covering the migratory crisis caused by the war. 1

Since then, 10 months have passed without the authorities of that country having publicly presented evidence, detailing accusations against him or bringing him to trial.

This length of time in pretrial detention is generating significant expenses for the people around the journalist who pay for the defence and send money to him in prison.

For this reason, friends and colleagues of the reporter with Spanish and Russian nationality have founded the #FreePabloGonzález Association to raise funds to pay for legal coverage, launch initiatives to support the journalist and channel the fight for his rights.

One of the main problems in the case is that, a few hours after his arrest and just before being sent to prison, he was interrogated without legal assistance.

This, together with the fact that Poland accuses him of spying for Moscow — a very serious crime punished by the Polish penal code with up to 10 years in prison — explains why it has been necessary to strengthen the defence of Pablo González throughout the process.

At times, the journalist has had three legal teams, due to the complexity of the case and the impediments that the Polish courts have placed in his defence process. From the day of his arrest, Pablo González has been assisted by Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer who announced his arrest.

In April, thanks to collaboration in the journalist’s location, Polish lawyer Bartosz Rogala was hired, after the two lawyers assigned ex officio by the authorities of that country resigned from the case.

Since October, González also has, according to the family, a group of Polish criminal lawyers experienced in complex processes.

Pablo González holding a football displaying the logo of the Athletic Bilbao football team, photographed during on-line interview prior to his arrest (Photo sourced: Internet)

The financial burden of the process on the family

“Until now we have drawn on savings and the help of relatives and close people, but the situation has reached such a point that we are forced to request help from society.”

These are the words of Oihana Goiriena, mother of Pablo González’s three children,2 who stresses that part of the income will also go towards improving the conditions of the journalist in prison.

Faced with this situation, the friends who make up the #FreePabloGonzález collective have promoted the creation of the association, which is registered in the General Register of Associations of the Basque Country.

The association is chaired by Oihana Goiriena. She is accompanied on the management team by Maribel Martínez and Gabino Martínez Terán, friends from Bilbao and Elantxobe, respectively.

For his part, Juan Teixeira, a photojournalist and friend of Pablo’s with whom he has been working for more than a decade, is the spokesperson. The others of the platform are friends from different backgrounds of the Basque journalist.

Demonstration months past in González’ family area in the Basque Country demanding his release (Photo sourced: Internet)

Legal expenses beyond attorneys’ fees

As explained by the journalist’s circle, most of the contributions received will be used to cover the cost of González’s legal defence. In addition to paying the different legal teams, it is necessary to cover the daily and travel expenses of their representatives and necessary bureaucratic procedures.

Radom prison is located 100 km from Warsaw and the representatives travel there regularly.

Funds collected will be used also to pay for Pablo González’ maintenance in prison.

As he has detailed in letters to his family and friends and in complaint he filed before the Strasbourg Court, the food he is provided in prison is quite deficient and he needs food and vitamin supplements. “They cost around 300-400 euros per month,” says Goiriena.

The #FreePabloGonzález platform members request that contributors send an email to the address freepablogonzalez@gmail.com, with the basic contact information so that in the coming weeks all those people who helped the journalist can be personally thanked.

COMMENT

Diarmuid Breatnach

González had been covering the war in Ukraine apparently without difficulty for some time prior to his address but was named in a hostile published list, along with over a hundred other public commentators in the Spanish State, as “pro-Russian”.3

It seems suspicion was aroused when a broadcast of one of his La Sexta (TV) reporting pieces experienced a transmission breakdown and he was left facing a blank camera with Ukrainian troops in the background for half an hour while attempts were made to reconnect.

His detention by Ukrainian state security followed soon afterwards and among the issues for his interrogators, he reported after release, were his holding of two passports, one Russian with a Russian surname, the other Spanish with a Spanish surname.

González’s Russian passport names him as Pavel Rubtsov, using his father’s surname; his Spanish document identifies him as Pablo González Yagüe, using his mother’s two surnames4. Pablo is the Hispanicised version of the Russian name Pavel (Paul in English).

The reporter is the grandson of a Spanish Civil/ Antifascist War refugee who sought asylum in Russia, where his daughter married Gonzaléz’ father. Subsequently Pablo’s parents divorced and his mother went to live in the Basque Country in the Spanish state, taking Pablo with her.

According to his reports, among other sources of suspicion for Ukranian state security against him were that his employers include the Spanish left-wing on-line publication Publico.es and the Basque newspaper GARA– and that he had a bank card from Caja Laboral, a Basque workers’ cooperative bank.

While the passports issue might raise an eyebrow, dual nationality is legal in many state administrations and even the use of two versions of a name are known — no doubt a Russian passport and Russian surname smooths Gonzaléz’ periodic visits to his father.

The other issues raised by his early Ukrainian interrogators however are indicative of right-wing paranoia. Publico.es and GARA are moderately left-wing but have hardly departed far from the wsm’s (western mainstream media) line on the war in the Ukraine.

Pablo González photographed in Ukraine while reporting for La Sexta Spanish TV channel (Photo sourced: Internet)

It is of course possible that this reporter has not sufficiently toed that wms line in his reporting or that right-wing state security paranoia was sufficient; in any case he reported that his interrogators made it clear he was not welcome to continue in Ukraine.

González left but seemed determined to continue his reporting and went to Poland from where he was about to enter Ukraine again with a group of reporters when he was arrested by the Polish state security service, accusing him of spying for Russia but to date having produced no evidence.

Shortly after his Ukrainian detention, the reporter’s friends and family in the Basque Country were visited by Spanish State security also.

This latter provided grounds for WSWS5 to accuse the Spanish Government coalition of PSOE-Podemos of collusion but its report neglected to mention that Podemos’ co-founder Pablo Iglesias6 wrote publicly in defence of González and ridiculing the accusation against him.

The Polish state is entitled to charge González with any crime for which they have evidence but no administration is entitled to lock up someone because they don’t like him or what he writes — or because of some vague suspicion.

A number of journalist defence organisations have raised concerns but strangely, in its annual report for 2022, the Reporters Without Frontiers organisation has not listed him among last year’s victims of attacks or threats to journalists — because he has not yet been tried.7

This seems extraordinary, that a 10-month detention without trial does not count as an attack on a journalist. However the International Press Institute and other press freedom organisations have called for his release and application of due legal process.

The Guardian reported in May that a spokesperson for Polish state security claimed to have amassed “vast evidence”8 and yet seven months later, there are still no specific charges or evidence produced with which to confront González or his lawyers.

End.

FOOTNOTES

SOURCES & REFERENCES

Publico article in original: El entorno de Pablo González crea una asociación para apoyar la defensa legal del periodista encarcelado en Polonia | Público (publico.es)

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/08/23/slbq-a23.html

Spanish-Russian journalist Pablo Gonzalez held six months in Polish jail on bogus spying charge – World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/12/spanish-journalist-held-in-poland-on-suspicion-of-pro-russian-espionage

RSF no considera la detención del periodista Pablo González como arbitraria hasta que Polonia presente pruebas | Público (publico.es)

Poland: Further justification needed for journalist Pablo González’s continued detention – International Press Institute (ipi.media)

Ukrainian journalist persecuted: https://rebelbreeze.com/2022/05/06/ukrainian-blogger-arrested-in-spain-for-extradition-to-ukraine/

1Although González has been a reporter for Spanish printed and TV media, his is a case of detention and harassment of journalists that has received little attention in the mainstream western media. His detention by the Polish state security services follows interrogation by state intelligence services in Ukraine, where he had been based for some time reporting on the war there.

2In the Basque Country, to where his mother emigrated from Russia and where Gonzaléz and his family are domiciled.

3As we have learned during this conflict, such a designation can mean anything from what it says to “not wholly convinced by the Ukrainian authorities or NATO” and the reporting and censorship aspect of the war has been as prominent as the military aspect.

4As is the custom in the Spanish state.

5World-Wide Socialist Web – wwsw.org

6Also former Minister in the Spanish coalition Government and former leader of the Podemos party from which he resigned last year after the poor electoral results of the Podemos-Unidas Left-coalition.

7RSF no considera la detención del periodista Pablo González como arbitraria hasta que Polonia presente pruebas | Público (publico.es)

8https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/12/spanish-journalist-held-in-poland-on-suspicion-of-pro-russian-espionage

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s