Polish court dismisses Sikorski web abuse case


A lawsuit launched by former Polish foreign minister Radosław Sikorski against a German-owned website that hosted antisemitic abuse directed at him has been thrown out by a Warsaw court.

Comments such as "Sikorski, the husband of an Orthodox Jewish woman, is the enemy of the Polish nation and a puppet in the hands of his father -in-law. His mission is to destruct and destabilise our country" and "To the oven, Jews, to the oven. Hitler started, we will finish", appeared on the website under an article titled: "Sikorski informed on antisemites through internet forums".

Mr Sikorski, who is currently the marshal of the Polish parliament and married to Jewish author Anne Applebaum, claimed that the owner of the website, Axel Springer Polska, bore responsibility. He demanded the removal of the comments, a published apology and £3,500 in compensation.

Axel Springer Polska, represented by lawyer Anna Cichonska, claimed that the publisher, as a service provider, was not obliged to check the content it hosts. Ms Cichonska said: "Poland uses European Union law, which excludes responsibility of an intermediary service provider - in other words, entities which 'do not initiate' unlawful content."

The German company also argued that its automatic moderation system failed to filter out the offensive comments because they were not written in "normal identifiable Polish".

Axel Springer Polska added that the website blocked the comments as soon as it found out about them, and published a statement condemning antisemitism and regretting the appearance of the racist language.

Ms Cichonska said: "A forum administrator who only makes available disc space to internet users should not bear responsibility, certainly if it does not possess knowledge of the unlawful nature of the comments".

She added that, under Polish law, the individuals who posted the racist comments could be sued.

A previous investigation into the matter was called off by Poland's General Prosecutor in 2012 "because of lack of public interest", according to the prosecutor's office.

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