U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) was detained by Warsaw police today for about 15 minutes after attempting to take pictures of Polish television technicians being questioned by police.
Pressler, here to check on food relief as chairman of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, said that the camera was later returned to him with the film, and Foreign Ministry officials apologized.
Pressler said he had been amazed at the freedom with which people were prepared to talk in Poland despite martial law but at the same time was dismayed by the repressive action taken by the government. "I told Polish officials that there was no chance of the U.S. Senate agreeing to agricultural credits as long as the repression continues," he said.
According to NBC, Pressler had been interviewing Poles standing in line in the supermarket, asking them about food shortages. The talks were filmed by American television networks using Polish technicians. As Pressler left, police demanded to see the identification papers of the Polish technicians and Pressler, with his own camera, took pictures.
Alan Romberg, deputy State Department spokesman, said Pressler was released after two U.S. Embassy officials accompanying Pressler "intervened on the spot," The Associated Press reported.
Romberg said, "I have nothing to suggest that this was a purposeful harassment of Sen. Pressler. The incident is over."