Using Communist-era secret files, Poland brands thousands of citizens as traitors

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When Polish secret police tried to recruit Karol Malcuzynski, a BBC researcher, as a spy in 1979, he flatly rejected them after just 20 minutes' conversation.

Three decades on, however, it has taken him nearly a year of legal battling to clear his name, after he was retrospectively branded a "communist secret agent" by Poland's Right-wing government.

In a move that nearly wrecked his reputation as a respected journalist, Mr Malcuzynski received a letter from Poland's National Remembrance Institute, a government agency, which presides over communist-era secret police files.

It informed him that there was "no doubt" he had passed on "operationally useful" information to Poland's communist-era authorities.

"Suddenly the contracts for television appearances dried up," he said.

During a subsequent court case, however, it emerged that the secret policeman had fabricated evidence about the journalist.

Yet according to critics of Poland's government, headed by the twins Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski as president and prime minister respectively, hundreds of thousands of other Poles are in a plight similar to Mr Malcuzynski's.

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