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article imageFacing new claims, Poland's ex-president Walesa denies spying

By AFP     Feb 7, 2017 in Politics

Poland's Solidarity hero Lech Walesa on Tuesday flatly denied allegations that fresh handwriting analysis proved he had collaborated with the communist-era secret police in the early 1970s.

The country's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which prosecutes crimes from the Nazi and communist eras, said last week there was "no longer any doubt" that Walesa had signed a collaboration agreement as well as receipts for payment from the secret police.

"I swear I never swore anything to those on the other side", Walesa, a Nobel Peace laureate and former president, told reporters in Gdansk on Tuesday.

"I can show you a hundred different handwriting experts who have a different opinion", the 73-year-old added.

Walesa, who co-founded the Solidarity trade union and then negotiated a bloodless end to communism in Poland in 1989, has been dogged by the allegations for years.

A special vetting court ruled in 2000 that there was no basis to suspicions that Walesa had been a paid agent of the communist regime.

But the IPN said last week that the authenticity of the secret police files, which include Walesa's alleged codename "Bolek", was determined by forensic experts in the southern city of Krakow.

The experts compared the files to other documents such as Walesa's applications for a passport, identity card and driving licence. Walesa had refused to submit handwriting samples.

A book published by the IPN in 2008 alleged that while the regime registered Walesa as a secret agent in December 1970, he was cut loose in June 1976 because of his "unwillingness to cooperate".

The allegations against Walesa resurfaced last year after the IPN obtained previously unknown secret police files from the widow of a communist-era interior minister.

Walesa enigmatically admitted at the time to having "made a mistake", and in the past said he signed "a paper" for the secret police during one of his many interrogations.

Poles in general have mixed feelings about Walesa. His boldness in standing up to the communist regime is still widely respected, but the combative and divisive tone of his later presidency earned him scorn in many quarters.

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