Polish security finds cabinet meeting room bugged


Special services in Poland have discovered and removed bugging devices in a room where cabinet ministers were due to meet.

The weekly cabinet meeting normally takes place in the prime minister’s office in Warsaw.

But Tuesday’s session was relocated to the southern city of Katowice because several ministers, including Prime Minister Donald Tusk, were due to attend a major economic conference there.

Poland has seen increased spying activity since it became an international hub for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine following Russia’s 2022 invasion.

In a separate case this week a judge has sought asylum in neighbouring Belarus, and Mr Tusk said on Tuesday he had access to confidential documents.

“The State Protection Service, in co-operation with the Internal Security Agency, detected and dismantled devices that could be used for eavesdropping,” wrote security services spokesman Jacek Dobrzynski on X. “The services are carrying out further activities in this matter.”

Mr Dobrzynski told the TVN24 broadcaster the devices were found during a routine security sweep of the room. Poland’s Internal Security Agency is now investigating what the devices were, and who could possibly have installed them.

Following the security check, the cabinet meeting went ahead in the building as planned.

A spokeswoman for the Silesia regional authorities, Alicja Waliszewska, told state news agency PAP that the device may have been part of the room’s old communication system that was no longer operational.

The discovery follows news on Monday that a Polish judge is seeking asylum in neighbouring Belarus.

Tomasz Szmydt, a judge at the Voivodship Administrative Court in Warsaw, told a news conference in Minsk his actions were in protest against Poland’s “harmful” policy towards Belarus and Russia that could result in armed conflict between the countries.

Investigators are checking whether the judge had been spying. He was reportedly due to rule next month on cases concerning security clearance for confidential information on Nato, of which Poland is a member.

Commenting on the affair, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote on X: “A traitor. The only question is since when.”

Mr Szmydt gained notoriety in Poland for his involvement in an online smear campaign that was allegedly run from the justice ministry against judges who opposed the judicial reform introduced by the previous Law and Justice-led government.

Donald Tusk has convened a meeting of the Secret Services College for Wednesday to discuss potential Russian and Belarusian influence in Polish politics in recent years.

“We must be aware that services, in this case Belarusian ones, worked with a person who had direct access to the minister of justice… who had access to various classified documents to which no intelligence service should have had access,” the prime minister told a news conference.

Former Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has denied ever meeting the judge.

Mr Tusk added that “the fact that judge Szmydt’s relationship with the Belarusians has a long history… must raise our greatest concern”.

Last year, the Polish authorities charged several members of an alleged Russian spy network who were tasked with preparing sabotage acts to paralyse the supply of weapons and aid to Ukraine.

Cameras were discovered near the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport near the Ukrainian border that serves as a logistics hub and is protected by American troops and Patriot missile batteries.__BBC.com