A COUPLE of men robbed investigative journalist Tom Nicholson in Poland. They stole his car, which was later found in a forest near Warsaw. The men also stole his luggage, including his laptop, memory disks and notes containing sensitive information, the Sme daily reported in its May 29 issue.
Nicholson, a Canadian journalist based in Slovakia who formerly worked as publisher and editor-in-chief of The Slovak Spectator, has broken several notable stories about alleged corruption. Though he says this seems like an ordinary theft incident, he is concerned about his sources and information obtained from them contained in his notes, Sme wrote.

According to a Sme report, Nicholson was on his way from Slovakia to Warsaw in mid-May. He was driving a black Mercedes borrowed from the Petit Press publishing house. There were two other people in the car: his friend, sitting in the passenger seat, and his girlfriend, sleeping in the back of the car. About 15 kilometres before Warsaw, Nicholson heard a blast, as reported by Sme.

He noticed a black BMW in the rear-view mirror, flashing its lights at him. He stopped the car. A man from the BMW got out and told Nicholson there was damage to his car, as he saw something fall out of the Mercedes. While Nicholson and his friend inspected the car for damage, a second man dressed in black appeared, got into the Mercedes and drove off.

Nicholson’s girlfriend stayed in the back of the car, but was kicked out after two kilometres, according to the report.

Though the car had a built-in GPS system, it was not working in Poland since it did not have active roaming. After turning it on, police found the vehicle abandoned in the forest about a 20-minute drive from the place where it was stolen. The men took the luggage, including Nicholson’s laptop, memory drives and notes, but left behind mobile phones, CDs and a child safety seat worth €200, Sme wrote.

Nicholson considers the whole theft strange, since the men stole the computer and his notes.
“They did it in a very risky way; they put a lot of energy into it, and finally left it [the car] about 20 minutes away,” the journalist told Sme. “Obviously, they were professionals; they did not waste any time and did not make a wrong step. It was a well-prepared action.”

Though the police alleged that the burglary may have been connected with Nicholson’s work, he does not think so. He added, however, that the computer contained sensitive information whose abuse could harm his sources. Though he does not assume someone from Slovakia arranged the theft, the journalist fears that it would be easy to find out where he obtained his information and from whom, as reported by Sme.

The case is being investigated by the Polish police, which also cooperated with the Slovak authorities in the beginning, especially when searching for the car. Also, the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency confirmed to Sme that it is aware of the case.

Polish Ambassador to Slovakia Tomasz Chłoń is also interested in the burglary, calling it an “interesting case”.