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 Whistleblowers Need Protection




The Paszkowski family future remains far from clear. Throughout the period of putting together this book and assisting his new lawyer with his case, I attempted to corroborate his allegations to the extent possible. Corroboration could only come through official sources, including ministries, CSIS, the RCMP and the Polish Ministry of the Interior. This postscript outlines some of many attempts to verify Paszkowski's story and find evidence in his defence.

Paszkowski's current lawyer, Brad Willis, wrote the German lawyer Josef Mühlbauer asking for confirmation of the details of his visit with Paszkowski in the jail in 1986. Willis' letter was taken out of the country and mailed from Germany by registered mail but there was no response. No response has been received either to my two recent letters to Mühlbauer; phone calls to him were not answered.

Paszkowski has kept in touch with his friend Staszek sporadically over the years. Staszek served his full term in German jail for hijacking. His life in Germany did not turn out well, when Ryszard last heard from him, he was in jail again on minor criminal charges. In Paszkowski's opinion, Staszek could not add anything new or substantive to his defense.

A telephone call to Rome to the phone number given by Paszkowski as that of his contact Di Marco of Italian Intelligence in 1986 indicated that the number has belonged to the Italian Red Cross for the past two years.

Access to Information Act requests filed by my colleague, Danuta Tardif, with the RCMP, CSIS, and External Affairs took more than a year and a half to be processed. Almost three thousand pages later, most of the documents received are of no real importance. All of the information that would be helpful was purportedly exempt from release under the sections of the Access to Information Act that deal with: information obtained in confidence from the government of a foreign state or institution; information deemed `injurious' to the conduct of international affairs; information that would be detrimental in the detection, prevention or suppression of crime; personal information as defined in the Privacy Act; and information that contains advice prepared for a government or a minister of the Crown and an account of consultations or deliberations involving employees of a government institution, a minister of the Crown or the staff of the Crown.

After such a dense combination of exemptions, the documents that were released and classified as `secret', `confidential' or `protected' were mostly toothless, having entire sections blanked out. There were numerous blank pages with only a relevant section number recited; everything on them was presumably considered secret.

To its considerable credit, the Access to Information and Privacy Office at the Department of Citizenship and Immigration (previously Employment and Immigration), co-ordinated well the massive flow of material from immigration offices in Edmonton and External Affairs and waived the charges because of the long delays in processing the request.

One good indication that the documents released were going to be checked and rechecked with any really valuable information to be claimed exempt under an appropriate section of the Access to Information Act was a copy of one memo included among 1300 pages that arrived in April of 1994. The memo, dated 13 October 1992, was from the Director of the Immigration Information Centre and classified `protected'. It was addressed to Ian Taylor, Director, Security Review, Immigration Operations and concerns, "...the Access to Inf. Act request - Tardif.01". The note asks Mr. Taylor to assign an officer to review the request and asks for comments as to whether the information is releasable. The note is innocent by itself, but the addressee's name is significant. Ian Taylor appears on a majority of documents released as the originator of items or someone being copied to. His name also appears on copies of enquiries on Paszkowski's file with External Affairs dated August 12, 1986 seeking confirmation of issue of a Canadian Identity Card to Robert Fisher. Taylor clearly worked with the case for a lengthy time and was, as various documents quoted in this book indicate, determined to keep Paszkowski out of the country. This would tend to make him reluctant, I believe, to release anything very enlightening about the file in question provided he felt the law allowed him to claim an exemption.

The Information Access Directorate of the RCMP, responding to a request for information filed by Danuta Tardif on Ryszard Paszkowski, wrote that no record of personal information was found on Paszkowski, nor any other information regarding his case. Even if there was, it would presumably have been exempted. It took the Access to Information officer ten hours of search time (the additional five RCMP hours not paid by the applicant was generously borne by the RCMP) to decide they had nothing at all on the record to produce. This seems bizarre as among the documents received from Immigration was correspondence and other information that originated with the RCMP or that the force received copies of.

My own request filed at CSIS under the Privacy Act in September of 1992 in an attempt to see if my various interventions on behalf of Paszkowski and his family had resulted in some information on my own file at CSIS produced not even a single mention. Everything with any reference to his case was exempted under a long list of sections of the Privacy Act.

Checking Paszkowski's past in Poland proved an even more difficult task. As the democratic leadership was taking office in Poland in late 1989 and early 1990, there was a frenzy of activity in the Ministry of the Interior to destroy archives reflecting decades of political oppression. There are about three million files in the former SB archives. One in every twelve Polish citizens, including infants and seniors, had something to do with the secret service: they had either spied on others or, more likely, were being spied upon by the SB. As the SB was shredding itself into oblivion, many of its departments managed to destroy archives that would be of historic value. For example, the branch directed to fight churches and religion had a file on every cleric, no matter what denomination, with detailed information on church activities, texts of sermons, known friends and enemies, and biographies. According to one source, these files were destroyed to make it difficult to solve the mysterious deaths of a number of priests.

Similarly, the files of the SB branch dealing with political opposition were being destroyed. Only when it became public knowledge in Poland that files were being burnt on the orders of the outgoing heads of many SB departments did the pressure of public opinion and the new political leadership finally stop the process. One can only speculate about how many dirty secrets during the first post-communist months between mid-1989 and the spring of 1990 were set ablaze or are now in the hands of people with political ambitions. In 1990, the new democratic Minister of the Interior, Krzysztof Kozlowski, created a commission to oversee the files and control access to existing archives of the ministry so that they would never be used in political fights. The files containing information on SB agents, informers, confidants and consultants remain highly controversial.

Whether to release lists of SB agents and informants is unresolved and remains highly divisive in Poland. Fresh in many minds there is the experience of East Germans when Stasi's secret files were made public and a horrified society realized the extent of the state police infiltration of their lives. A few months before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Stasi managed to place several thousand agents in government and business institutions. Approximately 500 were smuggled into West Germany. Just before unification, the secret police destroyed 250 safety-deposit boxes containing important information. Der Spiegel quoted one of the agents saying, "We were relieved when after 14 days, working 24 hours a day, we destroyed everything." As it turned out, not everything was destroyed. The numbers of files were staggering: 35,000 officials, 150,000 permanent informers on the payroll, and two million collaborators. Six million people - almost half of all adult citizens of East Germany - were on file in the Stasi archives. The consequences of revealing the Stasi files included suicides by three East German generals, one parliamentarian and the end of dozens of political careers in both Germanies.

Another argument against releasing the SB files was the experience of former Czechoslovakia with its ensuing political turmoil. Rumours abound that many files in SB possession have been fabricated by the SB to discredit disliked leaders and Solidarity activists. It is thus impossible to determine officially if Paszkowski was a regular agent of the SB. The files are not open to the public and access to files is restricted only to serious criminal investigations.

Legislation is evidently to be brought before the Polish Parliament which will regulate access to archives in the possession of the Ministry of the Interior. The leader of the party proposing the measure said in the spring of 1994 that it is an `unhealthy' situation when access to the files is given only to certain government officials, including the president and the ministers, and when courts are refused access, especially in cases of libel.

The interest generated by an estimated three million secret SB files is indicated often in the Polish media. Newspapers quote former SB officers who claimed that the files might include the names of people who never co-operated with them. As each operational employee was obliged to recruit at least ten agents, many fabricated new files to meet quotas based on innocent contacts with persons, for example scientists, who provided some simple advice on a matter. One senior SB member said that extremely important agents had never been registered and were only known to the officer who supervised them personally. Their files, he said, are long gone.

In a 1992 book published in Poland, the authors interviewed a number of former SB agents, who asked to remain anonymous as going public would be equivalent to a death sentence. They were not afraid of the newly-created Office of State Protection which replaced the SB, but they were very much afraid of former SB employees now hidden while hoping for the return of the old order. The former agents described their own `work experience' in the book and called the new management team in their department incompetent. They laughed at those trying to reveal the lists of names of former SB collaborators because the lists could be manipulated. They implied that most of the documents were destroyed and the very important ones were not even in Poland any more. Without good evidence, the people left could not be convicted of anything. Accusing people and creating an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion leads only to turmoil, thus pleasing the real agents, whose identities we might never know.

Antoni Macierewicz, Minister of the Interior in the former government of Jan Olszewski, the only coalition government of the Right in post-1989 Poland, visited Canada in the spring of 1994. His name is associated with the "Macierewicz list" - a list of sixty-six SB informers who occupied senior positions in 1992 and are still in government service. Macierewicz was authorized by the Polish Parliament to call a commission to prepare the list. The ensuing political uproar led to the fall of Olszewski's government in mid-1992. Although the list was leaked to the public, it is considered top secret and the people in question were not called to account in detail for their pasts. During an interview with the Canadian Polish weekly, Glos Polski, Macierewicz admitted that many files were destroyed and many more were removed from the archives and are in the hands of `various' people. He says Jerzy Urban, the much-hated spokesman for the Jaruzelski regime, has access to the files and has used the information to blackmail various politicians. General Jaruzelski and Kiszczak, the last communist Minister of the Interior, also have access to the SB files, says Macierewicz.

Macierewicz, when asked in a private conversation about Ryszard Paszkowski, admitted to me that he knew of the case from Poland but stopped short of discussing it or going on record that Paszkowski's life would be in danger if returned to Poland. The political situation in Poland is still too volatile for a former Minister of the Interior to admit publicly to what he might admit privately. Macierewicz never suggested at any point that Paszkowski should be unconcerned about his safety if he returns to Poland.


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