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New Walesa Autobiography Rejects Agent Charge


Associated Press Writer

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Former Polish President Lech Walesa on Monday presented a new autobiography that he hopes will put to rest allegations he served as a communist agent in the 1970s.

“I want everything to be known, precisely,” Walesa – who denies that he agreed to collaborate in any way – said a televised news conference.

“The Road to the Truth. An Autobiography” – the third book by Walesa, 65, a hero of the anti-communist movement – hit Polish bookstores Friday. Walesa said the release was timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of his 1983 Nobel Peace Prize win.

It comes months after two historians with the state-run National Remembrance Institute claimed that Walesa – then an electrician at the Gdansk shipyard – collaborated with the secret police between 1970 and 1972 and provided information on the activities of shipyard workers.

The claim is based on documents from the Interior Ministry archives allegedly carrying Walesa’s signature.

Walesa, who helped found the Solidarity movement, which toppled communism in the country, and served as president from 1990-95, has repeatedly denied the charge. In the book, he writes that, following his arrest in December 1970, authorities offered to release him from prison if he signed some documents.

“I did not think long. I did not even read them,” Walesa writes. “I signed a number of papers on leaving the arrest, which was a standard procedure. … I remember there were many pages maybe five or seven and each had to be signed.”

Dissident organizations later taught members not to sign anything for the secret police.

“It was a mistake that I signed anything then,” Walesa writes. “Let me repeat once again, that I never signed any declaration of collaboration or any promise to be an agent.”

Allegations of this nature are made from time to time in former communist countries, where the past is the subject of debate and accusation.

This month, a document written by the Czech Communist police surfaced, claiming that Milan Kundera – the author of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” – once informed on a purported Western spy. Kundera denied the claims.

No information on an English translation of Walesa’s book was available.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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