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Politics

Amid growing political scandal, Poland's PM Tusk says snap vote an option

Poland's prime minister has said snap elections may be the only way out of a political scandal. The crisis was sparked by the publication of a secret conversation between the central bank chief and the interior minister.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday that while he saw no reason to step down, it may be necessary to call fresh elections within a matter of weeks.

"It may happen that the only solution will be earlier elections if the crisis in confidence is so deep," the prime minister said.

He also called on the editors of the Polish weekly magazine Wprost to release any and all secret recordings of leading politicians that they may have. Tusk said that unless this happened, the state would be unstable and his political team could be vulnerable to blackmail.

The fact that Tusk had called the news conference on a bank holiday had sparked rumors that he may be about to step down over the affair.

Raid on Wprost offices

This comes a day after state prosecutors accompanied by police had raided the headquarters of Wprost in an attempt to seize the recording that sparked the scandal.

The magazine's editor, Sylwester Latkowski and other journalists resisted attempts by prosecutors to seize his laptop and pen drive. Latkowski said he would only hand them if he was presented with a court order to do so. Police and prosecutors later abandoned their attempt to seize the items.

Under Polish law, journalists are required to protect sources who request anonymity. They can only be forced to reveal their identities if ordered to do so by a court order.

A lawyer for Wprost, Jacek Kondracki was cited by the Associated Press as saying the magazine would take the authorities to court over the incident.

"We are not living in Putin's country or in Belarus," Kondracki said, referring to Russia, which has faced widespread criticism in recent years over curbs on the freedom of the press.

A spokesperson for state prosecutors denied that the aim of the raid had been to violate press freedom, but was only intended to obtain evidence.

Secret conversation

The raid came days after Wprost published information from a conversation between central bank chief Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz recorded secretly in a restaurant last July. In it, Belka is heard telling Sienkiewicz that he would support the government's economic policy if Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski was removed from his job. Rostowski left the post later in the year.

pfd/hc (AP, Reuters, AFP,dpa)

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