Tusk grilled by Polish prosecutors
European Council President Donald Tusk (pictured with Barack Obama) has spent more than eight hours being questioned by Polish prosecutors and says the case in which he is appearing as a witness is “highly political”.
Tusk, 59, was called as a witness in an investigation into former heads of military counter-intelligence (SKW) suspected of cooperating with foreign intelligence without his permission.
Military prosecutors are probing allegations of secret illegal contacts between Polish and Russian intelligence while Tusk was prime minister. Former top intelligence officers are suspects in the case.
A former SKW head has said that Tusk, as prime minister at the time, was ultimately responsible for the intelligence service and fully aware of secret services’ cooperation with Russia and had authorised it.
Tusk told the media in Warsaw that he could not give details about his testimony, which was secret, but that he was treated hospitably to “tea, coffee and water”.
“The whole case has a highly political character,” Tusk said as he left the prosecutors’ office. He also greeted a group of well wishers.
Earlier, Tusk had been received by hundreds of supporters at Warsaw’s central railway station chanting “Free, European Poland”.
Tusk is only a witness in the investigation into alleged illegal activity during his 2007-14 premiership. Some analysts have seen his questioning as part of a larger attempt by the nationalist government to discredit Tusk by linking him to scandals.
He is the ex-leader of Poland’s Civic Platform (PO), now the largest opposition party, and main rival to Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party.
With Tusk still popular, he could prove to be a serious challenger in the 2019 parliamentary election and 2020 presidential contest.
PiS, which defeated Tusk’s PO in the 2015 election, has been accused by the European Commission of undermining democracy with its restructuring of the constitutional court.
“I have no doubt that this is part of a political smear campaign. Its authors do not really hide it,” Tusk said before the questioning.
Tusk’s lawyer, Roman Giertych, told broadcaster TVN24 that the EU chief was “treated by the current ruling team as a serious political threat, and for that reason the case has a political character”.
Giertych said the questioning took so long partly because the minutes were taken by hand.
Tusk said he had attended “out of respect for the Polish state” but added that he would invoke his EU diplomatic immunity if he decided the process was intended to prevent him doing his job in Brussels.
Picture credit: Obama White House Archives