Polish judge under investigation after fleeing to Belarus

Polish prosecutors opened an investigation Monday after a Polish judge fled to Belarus and sought protection there. The National Prosecutor’s Office said it is looking into suspicions that the judge acted on behalf of a foreign intelligence service. According to Belarus state media, Judge Tomasz Szmydt told journalists in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, that he was forced to leave Poland due to disagreements with the current authorities. Szmydt, a judge at the provincial administrative court in Warsaw, gained notoriety in 2019 when he and his then wife engaged in an online smear campaign against judges critical of the judicial changes made by Law and Justice. Szmydt reportedly appealed to Belarus’ longtime leader, Alexander Lukashenko, for his protection, saying he considers Belarus a “country with great potential” led by a “very wise leader” and a place where “you can live peacefully.”