He Called Poland's President a 'Moron,' Now Faces Prison

Writer Jakub Zulczyk apparently violated article making it a crime to insult the head of state
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2021 11:51 AM CDT
He Called Poland's President a 'Moron,' Now Faces Prison
In this June 28, 2020, file photo, President Andrzej Duda addresses supporters after voting ended in the presidential election in Lowicz, Poland.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

A popular Polish writer is facing a potential sentence of up to three years in prison for calling the nation's president a "moron" on social media, per the AP. Jakub Zulczyk had criticized the manner in which Polish President Andrzej Duda—a close ally of former President Trump—had reacted to the electoral victory of President Biden last year. Duda offered his congratulations to Biden "for a successful presidential campaign" after US media called the election for Biden on Nov. 7, adding "we await the nomination by the Electoral College." The tweet was criticized by many for suggesting that Biden's victory was somehow not definitive. Zulczyk wrote on Facebook that as someone with a master's degree in American studies, he had never heard of a "nomination by the Electoral College" in the US system. "Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States. Andrzej Duda is a moron," he wrote.

Zulczyk wrote on Facebook on Monday that a district prosecutor in Warsaw had filed an indictment against him based on an article in the penal code that makes it a crime to insult the head of state. Zulczyk, who is best known for writing a novel that was turned into the HBO crime series Blinded by the Lights, said he believed that he is probably "the first writer in this country in a long time to be tried for what they wrote." People have also been charged for insulting previous Polish presidents in the post-communist era under the country's broad insult laws. Fines or community service—not prison—are the most likely punishment. However, the case comes amid what many see as an erosion of democratic standards in Poland since a right-wing populist party, Law and Justice, won power in 2015. Critics accuse authorities of harnessing prosecutorial powers on behalf of those in power.

(More Poland stories.)

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