The name of a person charged in relation to a visa corruption scandal, and who was associated with a deputy foreign minister fired over the issue, has been removed from a number of government webpages. Some photographs of him alongside the deputy minister have also been deleted.
The man, who can be named only as Edgar K. under Polish privacy law, is one of seven people who have been charged in relation to the scandal, which has engulfed the government over the last two weeks.
Edgar K. was said to be a close associate of Piotr Warzyk, the deputy foreign minister fired after anticorruption offices visited the foreign ministry at the end of last month. Edgar K. was not employed by the ministry, but was appointed by Wawrzyk in 2021 to represent Polish youth at the United Nations.
Seven people have been charged in relation to alleged corruption in the issuing of Polish visas to foreign nationals
The scandal has engulfed the government since last week, but officials say the opposition is exaggerating the scale and nature of the case https://t.co/iHnIShb1pQ
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 15, 2023
Media reports, in particular by Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading daily critical of the government, have claimed that Edgar K. pressured officials on behalf of the ministry to expedite the visa application process for individuals whose names he sent to consulates by email.
He was detained in April for three months on corruption charges but, although still facing those charges, is no longer in custody, according to news website Wirtualna Polska. Edgar K.’s alleged crimes have, however, only become public knowledge this month after Wawrzyk’s sacking prompted media to investigate the case.
On Monday, an opposition MP, Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, one of the leaders of The Left (Lewica), noted that Edgar K.’s name had been removed from the government’s website.
Wow. Wizy za łapówki to tak bardzo „nie-afera”, że ktoś pracujący dla rządu niszczy dowody na powiązania Edgara K. z politykami PiS.
Czystki są tak totalne, że wzmianki o Edgarze K. zaczęły znikać nawet ze starych newsów na stronach rządowych.
Komuś zależy na ukryciu prawdy… pic.twitter.com/BXYTf6UarR
— A. Dziemianowicz-Bąk (@AgaBak) September 18, 2023
She posted screenshots and links to the currently available version of the government website and an archived version from Wayback Machine, a digital internet archive, showing that Edgar K.’s name has been deleted from a text mentioning him being chosen as a Polish youth representative to the UN.
The screenshot shown by the MP still included the names of the other two delegates chosen, but without Edgar K. However, at the time of publication of this article, the entire page is no longer available online.
Referring to claims by government figures that “there is no visa scandal”, Dziemianowicz-Bąk write: “Wow. Visas for bribes are such a ‘non-scandal’ that someone working for the government is destroying evidence of Edgar K.’s connections with PiS politicians”.
Porządki jak w głębokiej komunie. Google znajduje Egdara K., aresztowanego w aferze wizowej, w 47 miejscach na stronach w domenie https://t.co/GF1ECfpExP. Ale z niektórych miejsc Edgar K. jest już usunięty. W poprzedniej wersji strony wypowiadał się na posiedzeniu w KPRM, w nowej… pic.twitter.com/ExpEIDoB0e
— Szymon Jadczak (@SzJadczak) September 20, 2023
At the time of publication of this article, there were some cases in which Edgar K’s name appeared on certain government webpages in a Google search but had been removed from the current version of the page. Notes from Poland found four such cases, for example here and here.
In some other cases, his name can be found in a Google search but then clicking through to the government website shows that the entire page is no longer available. Notes from Poland found seven such cases, for example here.
Konkret24, the factchecking service of broadcaster TVN24, noted yesterday that two articles containing photographs of Edgar K. alongside Wawczyk had disappeared from the government website.
Posłanka Lewicy poinformowała, że z tekstu opublikowanego kiedyś na stronie rządu zniknęło nazwisko Edgara K. Sprawdziliśmy. Zniknęło nie tylko to nazwisko w jednym artykule, ale też całe strony z tekstami. https://t.co/98mKNfpokq
— Konkret24 (@konkret24) September 19, 2023
However, Notes from Poland also found seven pages still available on the government website mentioning Edgar K.’s name, including one that pictures him alongside Wawrzyk.
The Government Information Centre has not responded to requests for comment from either Notes from Poland or Konkret24.
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Main photo credit: MSZ (under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL)
Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.