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2 U.S. Diplomats Incited Protest, Poland Charges

May 03, 1985|ROBERT GILLETTE | Times Staff Writer

WARSAW — The Polish government, in another blow to its relations with Washington, accused two U.S. diplomats Thursday of inciting an illegal May Day demonstration in the southern city of Krakow.

The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw immediately denied the charge in a statement that accused police in Krakow of kicking and striking one of the diplomats and of illegally detaining them.

The incident was the second in three months in which the Polish government has accused American diplomats of misbehavior and in which police apparently roughed up the Americans involved.

The American military attache, Col. Frederick Myer, and his wife were expelled on spying charges in late February amid angry accusations by the State Department and the Pentagon that police had physically abused her.

Western diplomats said it appeared that Polish authorities had contrived both incidents in a deliberate effort to antagonize Washington, but they said Poland's purpose in doing so was not clear.

2 Advisers Sentenced

Meanwhile, a municipal court in Warsaw on Thursday sentenced two senior Solidarity advisers, Jacek Kuron and Seweryn Jaworski, to three months in prison on charges of taking part in an illegal May Day march in the capital. Lech Walesa, the leader of the outlawed union, accused the authorities of trying to "govern only with truncheons" and warned that time for finding peaceful solutions to Poland's problems is running out.

The official Polish news agency PAP said that John Davis, the American charge d'affaires here, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to receive a formal protest over the two diplomats' alleged behavior in Krakow's steel-making suburb of Nowa Huta. The diplomats were identified as William Harwood, a first secretary at the embassy in Warsaw, and David Hopper, the American consul in Krakow.

PAP said they were among a group of 15 "aggressively behaving people" who were detained in Nowa Huta for "chanting anti-state slogans, carrying banners with hostile inscriptions and spreading leaflets."

Thousands in Marches

The demonstration was one of at least five marches involving thousands of people in major Polish cities and organized by Solidarity to protest food price boosts and political arrests. Western observers at Nowa Huta said about 2,000 demonstrators set out from a church in the industrial suburb but quickly dispersed without violence when they reached lines of riot-equipped police about 500 yards away.

The Polish news agency said the behavior of the two diplomats will further burden U.S.-Polish relations, which "have come to their critical point." It did not explain what this meant.

The U.S Embassy, in a statement, dismissed the accusations as "completely erroneous" and said the United States had protested to Poland over the "physical mistreatment and detention of these two accredited diplomats."

One of the Americans, the statement said, was "pushed, struck, kicked and forced" into an unmarked police vehicle when they showed police their diplomatic identity cards and objected to being detained.

"The two individuals in question were performing normal diplomatic functions as observers, repeat observers, of events," the U.S. statement continued. It said they were held at a police station for about 20 minutes before being "escorted to the door and released with apologies."

Icy Relations Since '81

Polish-American relations have been icy since December, 1981, when the Reagan Administration imposed a wide range of sanctions to protest the crushing of Solidarity under martial law.

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