* Magazine published secret tapes that embarrassed govt
* Prosecutors raided premises looking for recordings
* Justice Minister says prosecutors went too far
(Adds quotes and background)
By Marcin Goclowski and Christian Lowe
WARSAW, June 20 Poland's government acknowledged
on Thursday law enforcement officers had gone too far when they
raided the offices of a magazine and tried to seize leaked tapes
that have embarrassed senior officials.
The night-time raid on the magazine's offices, during which
officers tried to wrestle a laptop containing the recordings out
of the arms of the editor-in-chief, provoked a storm of outrage
over respect for press freedom.
It aggravated an already deep crisis for the government over
the tapes, with Prime Minister Donald Tusk facing opposition
calls to fire ministers, and hinting he may be forced to call a
Poland's zloty currency fell to a three-week low on Friday
after a member of the central bank's rate-setting council said
central bank governor Marek Belka - one of the officials
recorded in the tapes - should consider his position.
The currency has lost over one percent since the release of
the tapes, and all the gains it made this year.
The Wprost news magazine published recordings of a
conversation between Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej
Sienkiewicz in which the two men discussed how the central bank
might help the government avoid election defeat, and ways to put
pressure on a businessman.
Both men have said their words were taken out of context and
they did nothing which broke the law. They say the ideas they
were discussing never materialised.
"This situation should have never taken place," Justice
Minister Marek Biernacki told a news conference, in reference to
the raid on Wednesday night.
Justice ministry officials said four prosecutors, eight
internal security agency officers, and five policemen entered
the magazine's offices in the raid, and a further eight police
were outside the building.
"The prosecutors' actions can be considered as too
far-reaching and could raise legitimate concerns about breaching
of journalistic confidentiality," Biernacki said.
The emergence of the tapes - and the government's handling
of the issue - has tarnished Poland's reputation as one of the
more transparent and well-governed European Union states to have
emerged from behind the Iron Curtain.
The discussions between Belka and Sienkiewicz, which
included expletive-filled discussions about members of the
rate-setting council and other ministers, were deeply
embarrassing for Tusk's government.
After the raid on the offices of the magazine - which says
it will publish more of the tapes next Monday - some of Tusk's
own supporters joined the opposition in criticising the
The justice ministry's acknowledgement that mistakes were
made during the raid appeared to be part of an attempt by the
government to control the damage.
(Additional reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Christian
Lowe and Andrew Roche)