EU Commissioner urges Poland to release detained LGBT rights activist

“I call for the immediate release of LGBT activist Margot,” Mijatovic wrote on Twitter. Jacek Turczyk/PAP

Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Dunja Mijatovic on Saturday appealed to Poland to "immediately release" Michal Sz. aka 'Margo,' an LGBT rights activist detained by a court order on Friday. Michal Sz. claims a female identity.

In her opinion, the arrest sends a disturbing signal concerning freedom of speech and LGBT rights in Poland.

"I call for the immediate release of LGBT activist Margot from @stopbzdurom (an anti-homophobia group - PAP) detained yesterday for blocking an anti-LGBT hate van & putting rainbow flags on #Warsaw monuments. Order to detain her for 2 months sends very chilling signal for #FreedomOfSpeech & #LGBT rights in #Poland," Mijatovic wrote on Twitter.

According to the Polish prosecutor's office, Michal Sz. (surname withheld under Polish law) is suspected of committing an act of hooliganism on June 27 by taking part in a brutal attack on a pro-life activist and destroying property belonging to a pro-life foundation, for which he faces up to five years in prison.

Commenting on the Mijatovic post, Polish Deputy Minister of Justice Sebastian Kaleta tweeted on Saturday: "He's not an activist, but a criminal. Stop spreading #FakeNews," and posted a video recording of the incident.

He also referred to his earlier Facebook post in which he warned his readers that "European leftism" would be defending "the hooligan Michal Sz."

On Saturday, Polish police said they had detained 48 people after protesters tried to stop them arresting Michal Sz.

On Sunday, Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro also slammed Mijatovic's appeal.

"If someone forcibly threw you out of a car, beat you and pierced the wheels of the car with a knife, would you think that arresting the perpetrator by the court is an attack on freedom? Be ashamed of your appeal in defence of the aggressor and apologise to a defenceless man beaten by an LGBT activist!" Ziobro tweeted.