July 8, 2020 / 4:52 PM / a month ago

Poland summons German charge d'affaires over election media coverage

WARSAW (Reuters) - The Polish foreign ministry summoned Germany’s charge d’affaires in Warsaw on Wednesday to complain of what it said were inaccuracies and bias in German media coverage of Poland’s presidential election.

Poles will vote in a knife-edge run-off vote on Sunday, which pits President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party against liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski of the centrist Civic Platform (PO).

Duda, seeking a second, five-year term, has previously accused international media of misrepresenting his words.

His camp also reacted furiously to coverage in a partly German-owned Polish tabloid of a presidential pardon granted in a paedophilia case, suggesting Germany may be seeking to meddle in the election.

“In connection with a sequence of articles in German media using manipulation and creating a clear impression of favouring one of the candidates... I today summoned the German charge d’affaires to the Foreign Ministry,” Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek wrote on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the German embassy in Warsaw confirmed that the charge d’affaires had been summoned.

Szynkowski vel Sek did not specify which articles he was referring to. The Polish foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The German government of course does not try to influence the Polish presidential election,” said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

“And of course the German government does not influence the work of correspondents in Germany or abroad,” he added.

PiS has long said it would like less foreign ownership of private media in Poland, accusing such outlets of anti-Polish bias.

It has annoyed Germany - Poland’s biggest trade partner and a NATO ally - with repeated calls for war reparations over the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War Two. Germany says all financial claims linked to the war have been settled.

Reporting by Alan Charlish and Alicja Ptak in Warsaw, Andreas Rinke in Berlin; Editing by Gareth Jones

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