Legend Press says it is “shocked” by the arrest of Polish author Jakub Zulczyk, who faces a potential jail sentence for calling his country's president a “moron”.
Zulczyk, whose books include Blinded by the Lights, published by Legend last year, was charged following a Facebook post in which he accused Andrzej Duda of not understanding American electoral processes.
According to the BBC, the writer's comments were a reaction to Duda's tweet following media reports of Joe Biden's presidential election victory in November. The Polish premier wrote: “Congratulations to Joe Biden for a successful presidential campaign.
"As we await the nomination by the Electoral College, Poland is determined to upkeep high-level and high-quality PL-US strategic partnership for an even stronger alliance."
Referring to the tweet on Facebook, Zulczyk said he had never heard of an Electoral College nomination, concluding: “Andrzej Duda is a moron."
Insulting state leaders in the country has been made a crime and charges have now been filed against the author, who is accused of “committing an act of public insult”.
Legend Press m.d. Tom Chalmers told The Bookseller: “We were shocked that Jakub Zulczyk has been charged for his comments on President Duda. This is a further example of chilling laws being increasingly introduced by governments to oppress freedom of speech. History demonstrates the impact of freedom of speech being denied and it is essential for all writers and members of the public to be able to express their views on those in power without the threat of consequences.
“We stand fully with Jakub and will do all we can to support him in challenging these charges and to continue with his right to freedom of speech.”
In a statement issued through his agent, a defiant Zulczyk said: “During his June 2020 re-election campaign, President Andrzej Duda stated: 'LGBTQ are not human beings, they are just an ideology.' These words dehumanised hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ citizens in Poland who, on an everyday basis, embrace verbal and physical violence and who are deprived of many civil rights such as a formal legal bond, joint tax procedure, access to health information etc.
“Beatings and violent attacks on LGBT people are much too common in Poland. And yet, none of the Prosecutor’s Offices have pressed any charges against President Duda and his incriminating words.
“It was not the Prosecutor’s Office who informed me officially about charges based on my Facebook post. It was the media. The prosecutor decided to show the files firstly to the press — this is why I decline to use this path of communication and I am not going to comment on the prosecution itself. I wish to present my case directly to the appointed judge in the court of law.”