WARSAW, Poland — Polish prosecutors have questioned and charged a businessman who published classified files from an investigation into the illegal recording of government ministers' conversations.
The businessman, who prosecutors have identified only as Zbigniew S. in line with Poland's privacy laws, has acknowledged publishing photos of thousands of pages of files from the highly-sensitive investigation on his private Facebook account. He told reporters he found the files on a Chinese server while looking online for work and published them in the public interest.
The files contain personal data, including the addresses of people and senior government officials questioned in the investigation.
Prosecutors say they believe a person with access to the files — but not an investigator — leaked them to him, and the businessman was charged Tuesday night with the illegal publication of classified documents. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison.
In accordance with Polish law, prosecutors had made the classified files available to people from both sides of the investigation on the condition of secrecy and 15 of them have used the right.
But some lawmakers accused prosecutors of negligence, saying they failed to protect personal data. The critics argued that only a selection of material should have been provided to the parties involved in the case and prosecutors should have redacted sensitive information.
Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet, however, defended investigators assigned to the case, saying they followed procedures and acted within the law. The people who had access to the files were all lawyers and legal assistants, not the suspects or the victims, Seremet said.
"You cannot blame the prosecutors for someone having illegally published secret files," he said Wednesday.
The publication of the files is a blow to the ruling Civic Platform party because it raises questions about security procedures during sensitive investigations and about data protection. Some political analysts also say that the case could undermine Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz's government before parliamentary elections later this year.
Authorities launched an investigation last year into the secret taping of government ministers' conversations during gatherings in restaurants. Published transcripts of some of the meetings shook the Cabinet of then-Prime Minister Donald Tusk and cost the interior minister his position. Two waiters have been arrested and another businessman has been charged in the case, but he has maintained his innocence.