Podziemne Wydawnictwo ,,Kwadrat" - ,,Solidarność" Toruń
Serwis Internetowy Solidarności 
"Spectacular computer crimes" Buck Bloombecker (Director, National Center for Computer Crime Data)

The Book


I went to Torun, Poland, one rainy morning a few years ago, to meet my favorite computer criminal: the astronomer and Polish television pirate, Jan Hanasz.

A paragraph in the Los Angeles Times had caught my eye more than a year before. The article related that Poland's leading space scientist, Jan Hanasz, and three colleagues went on trial, "accused of having interrupted a state television transmission ... to urge voters to boycott elections ..."

Suddenly the newspaper caught my attention.

"They allegedly used a home computer, a synchronizing circuit, and a transmitter to flash messages on television screens."

A Polish computer crime! An opportunity to visit a friend and colleague and imagine myself as an investigative reporter. This was the kind of story I could do something with.

And I had. Now, in the summer of 1987,1 was on my way to interview Jan Hanasz as part of the research for a story on underground computing in Poland. His, I was to learn, was but one example of several ways that computers were making life easier for the Polish movement known as Solidarity.

Jacek, a man in his mid-30s, and droll, drove, talked, and pointed out the sights as we approached the city of Torun, the ancient home of Copernicus. Despite occasional jokes, Jacek was depressing, distressing, and deep in his gloom. He was cynical about the Soviet Union, doubtful about glasnost, despairing about Poland. "The only way to live in this system is to cheat," he said angrily. "The gas station attendant mixes ethyl and diesel gasoline. He sells the ethyl he has left over to people who have no government-issued ration coupons—at a premium, of course. The truck driver gets a broken part, replaces a good one with it, sells the good one, and brings his truck in for repair.

"The government creates rules," Jacek continued, "partly to control us. If you follow all the rules you're exhausted and poor. If you cheat, you're vulnerable to being co-opted. If you want to get meat, for instance, you'll find that there are extra ration books available for people who are in the government's favor"

The scenery was postcard-pretty as we drove. Horse-drawn carts loaded with great mounds of hay passed us on the road.

Jacek was amused that I was curious about computer crime in Poland. He laughed about Polish computing. "Yeah! They started getting them [computers] in the 70s. Part of the indus- trialization. I've heard about boxes of them sitting in the sun where the managers had no idea what to do with them. We borrowed up to our ears from the West, built things that didn't work, and wound up worse than before."

What a contrast from Jacek's dour driving to arrive at the office of Jan Hanasz and experience hospitality, grace, and hopefulness from this philosopher of political piracy.

A gentleness and calm surrounded this man. A friendly smile, a supportive glance, and Hanasz put me at ease. He was very open-faced and radiant. His thin, gray hair peeked around the red-framed glasses at his ears.

Hanasz's office at the Copernicus Astronomical Center in Torun was a bit larger and older than most I'd seen in the United States, but otherwise it was quite similar. Paper predominated, and two computers were on.

I'd come to Poland to learn about underground computer use, and the professor obliged me beyond my wildest dreams. He told me of DES (Data Encryption Standard) encryption for information going between Solidarity centers and individuals in Poland. He filled me in on the word processing programs used to prepare articles for publication, and on database programs used to organize Solidarity's files and make them easier to destroy. "I remember raids when I'd be eating files, everyone else would be eating, and the police were at the door." Now, Hanasz smiled, "I'd just press a disk to my chest and bend it"

Pacing at the blackboard, Hanasz proceeded to demonstrate his own contribution to the Solidarity effort, a spectacular computer crime. Twice within two weeks, he had sent a message to those of the 120,000-plus residents of Torun who were watching the evening news. "Enough price increases, lies, and repressions. Solidarity Torun," said the first message. The second read, "It is our duty to boycott the election," and then displayed the stylized version of the Solidarity name.

He had done it, Hanasz explained, by performing the equivalent of electronic hitchhiking on the Polish television network's airwaves. As an astronomer, he was more used to dealing with waves traveling through the air than the average computer user. After three months of planning, Hanasz and three colleagues had created an electronic system that could produce television signals, synchronize them with the signals of Polish state television, and aim them in the same path as the television network.

"There is a psychological phenomenon which allows us to join two different images we see on a television screen into a single picture," Hanasz told me. As a result, it was possible for the message to appear with much of the strength of the regular television program.

The key to his communication, Hanasz explained, was a form of synchronization. Unless the messages he was sending out were synchronized with the Polish TV station's signals, the plan would not work.

Hanasz, Zygmunt Turlo, Leszek Zalewski [orig. Zaleski - webmaster], and Piotr Lukaszewski were charged with possession of an unlicensed radio transmitter and publication of materials that could cause public unrest.

The details of their action were summarized in the sentence handed down in Department 2 of the Regional Court of Torun:

A picture transmitted by the official Polish television station was being received on a Neptune 150 television set. Vertical and horizontal synchronization pulses were being input to a digital device controlling and working with & DX-spectrum microcomputer and a transmitter. The digital device caused the microcomputer to time its generation of signals in synchronization with those of the government station, allowing television viewers tor receive both the government signal and the Solidarity signal at the same time.

Thus, while watching the evening news (Jokingly referred to as the evening comedy hour by many Poles), many of the residents of a suburb of Torun saw the Solidarity message. The prosecutor claimed that as a result voting was much poorer in Torun than in the surrounding area. Hanasz would not take all the credit for the downturn in voting, noting that there were leaflets, speeches, and underground newspaper articles also urging Poles to boycott the elections. But this, he agreed, was the most spectacular action; and, he smiled, "People like spectacular actions."

Hanasz warmed to the task of explaining to me why he took the action he did. He was a strong advocate of taking one's political identity seriously, and he railed against those who voted when they did not approve of the elections or the government. "The government controls everything," he said. "If someone votes, he doesn't lose only for himself, he loses for the nation."

Hanasz estimated that more than 50 percent of the Poles had voted in the 1985 elections, despite efforts like his. He sternly characterized this percentage as "terrible". "If people don't believe in the government, they shouldn't vote", he said. The prosecutor would later argue that the text of Hanasz's message had been sent at "a time of great unrest for the city and the country." The question of voting was far from trivial, as American readers might easily assume.

Not everyone in Poland was willing to follow Hanasz's advice in the message. "People are frightened even of their shadow," Hanasz sighed. "People are always blaming 'them,'" he went on. "They complain about what 'they,' [the government] are doing, but they won't take action." For Hanasz, the situation was clear: "The government isn't worth supporting. But people aren't used to having clear signals. They prefer to see mixed signals, which allow them to cooperate with the government."

As an example of why his fellow Poles resisted Solidarity's call for a vote boycott, Hanasz pointed to his own daughter's situation. Before the election, he said, his daughter wanted a passport to go abroad. Since the government lists those who vote, she was in a difficult situation. She knew of people who did not vote and then were denied passports. "No one tells you the reason you've been denied a passport is because you didn't vote," Hanasz explained. "You never know why these repressions take place. People vote just in case. It's the same thing if you want a building permit or a shop license."

In response to these fears, Hanasz urged his fellow Poles to act courageously. His daughter didn't vote, and she received her passport two weeks later. "I claim that in most cases this is true," Hanasz asserted.

Even when a citizen is sanctioned for failing to be sufficiently loyal, the astronomer suggested, the punishment is worth the price. "I feel much more free, resisting the government," he said. "I cannot go abroad, cannot go higher in my work, but I feel free. It depends on your attitude. If you want to have too much, you are never free."

Freedom is a revolutionary concept to Hanasz. "If many people were thinking this way, the government could do nothing." Instead, he found that people were constantly comparing themselves to those in Western Europe and wanting better standards of living. "This makes them support the government," he explained. Then he smiled and shrugged: "But these are normal people, I'm tolerant of them."

The first time he pirated the airwaves, Jan Hanasz was not frightened. "You don't think about consequences then," he explained. "I was frightened afterwards," he added, "knowing that sometime it had to end." He felt prepared. "There's no fighting without victims," he said.

Hanasz's fears were justified. The first time he and his colleagues transmitted their message, it was seen but they were not caught. Policeman Jozef Medzik saw it and read the text.

The next time, Hanasz and his associates were not so fortunate. Probably the victims of gossip about their unusual feat, Hanasz and the others were arrested September 14, 1985.

On that date, Polish police officers went to the flat from which they believed the transmissions were coming. "They knocked for quite some time at the door," Hanasz recalled, "and then decided to use force." This proved unnecessary. Hanasz opened the door, showing the officers several people packing electronic equipment and a television in plastic, one of them on the balcony taking apart a television antenna. The power supply for the transmissions was on a bed in another room, near a transformer plugged into the wall. A Sanyo computer and a tape recorder lay on a table nearby.

For the next three months, Hanasz was held in jail without being allowed any contact with his wife or attorney. He was questioned continually, as the authorities tried to find out if others had helped in his broadcast. After another month's delay, the case went to trial in January 1986. The pirates' lawyers, like lawyers dealing with a computer crime case anywhere, did their best. "At the start" Hanasz remembered, "it all looked obvious. However, the defense attorneys did a good job of complicating it."

However, all four men were found guilty. In determining their sentences, the judge noted that the defendants were well-respected scientists, each the author of several scientific achievements and the recipient of many prizes. Each received probation and was required to pay a fine of less than 100 U.S. dollars. Though much more onerous than a similar fine would be in the United States, the fines were considered fairly light.

"I didn't imagine the amount of noise our case would generate," Hanasz laughed. "Our colleagues worked on defending us, a Congress of intellectuals discussed it in January, and we began to get newspaper clippings from West Berlin, France, Great Britain, and Israel." Six months later, an amnesty was declared for all political offenders. Hanasz's case was considered political, so the punishment was ended and everyone's records expunged.

Returning to work at the University, Hanasz had to step down to a lower level of responsibility. (He had been the Principal Investigator on a joint project with the Soviet Union involving experimentation with satellites.) Six months more passed, and in January 1987 he returned to his former position after "quite a fight in the Academy," as he described it. "People who officially say they don't support the government have a hard time being seen as loyal," he said without a trace of irony. However, although he was restored to his original post, Hanasz said the project was much smaller than it had been before his arrest.


The last time we met, I was curious about the role that Jan Hanasz felt he had played. "I'm not a hero," he said. "In the underground there are people risking their lives all the time without being known. When they make a mistake and get attention—then they become heroes. This is a paradox." He reminded me of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the priest who had been killed by the Polish police. "When you are working in the underground," Hanasz explained, "you are prepared that someone can 'break your leg.' "

Returning from Torun with Jacek, I saw the bridge over the Vistula River from which the priest's body had been thrown by the Polish police. No more comment was necessary.


This chapter was written at a time of enormous change in Poland. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the first non-Communist to ever head a Communist nation, had just been chosen as Poland's Prime Minister. This was the latest of a series of revolutionary changes suggesting that Jan Hanasz was correct, if not prescient, in his prediction that the Communist government of Poland could not survive without the support of the Polish people. In 1987, no one I spoke with even hinted of a hope that Such dramatic change could come with such speed. The underground is now part of the establishment, and I can't wait to go back to Poland and find out what that means for people like my companion Jacek and my favorite pirate, Jan Hanasz.

One thing is clear with the hindsight of history—Hanasz's feat has all the hallmarks of a classic computer crime. It mixed courage, impact, and significance, contributing in a spectacular way to Poland's evolution into a formerly Communist-controlled country. Before events in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, and Czechoslovakia complemented the successes of Solidarity, this was a unique distinction in world politics. Hanasz's faith that even Communist governments can be toppled if they lack popular support has received spectacular vindication. His crime put one of the first cracks in the 'Iron Curtain', helping set the stage for the opening of the Berlin Wall.




Hanasz's  granddaugther (13 old) did presentation (in powerpoint) about tv pirate Jan Hanasz -> wnuczka o Hanaszu.pps


 Jan Hanasz, Anhänger der polnischen Arbeitergewerkschaft 'Solidarität', entwickelt mit drei befreundeten Astronomen ein System, welches TV-Signale produziert, die, mit den offiziellen Signalen synchronisiert, einen Aufruf zum Wahlboykott auf dem Fernseher erscheinen läßt (BloomBecker 1990, 170ff).



str. gł. english Solidarity in Toruń '81-'89
 Polish tv pirate
Kwadrat (1980-90r.)
- książka o Kwadracie
- ,,Nowości'' o książce
- prezentacja książki

bibuła kwadratu

kartki S
działacze kultury

Zdjęcia Sierpnia'80 w Towimorze

Radio i Tv Solidarność Toruń
- 4. audycja Radia S + fałszywka
1983 r.
- Radio Solidarność Toruń na fonii TvP
1984 r.
 Stasi przeciw RTv Solidarność

Telewizja ,,Solidarność'' 1985 r.
- Buck Bloombecker Polska Tv piracka
- wnuczka o Hanaszu
krzyże zasługi
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Wojciech Polak Czas Ludzi Niepokornych (pół książki)
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SOR Hydra - rozpracowanie podziemia ,S'

Podziemniaki - piosenki: Na wzwodzie

Zdzisław Dumowski ,,Jedna Noc'' całe opowiadania

Marek Czachor ,,Jak zatrudniałem się na PG''

R. Sojak, A. Zybertowicz Lustracja dla chóru

Konrad Turzyński - Czas przeszły dokonany
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- Krystyna Kuta

Jakub Stein Ich troje w monitoringu

lat ,S' , 25 lat stanu wojennego

tablica Upamiętnienia Wydarzeń 1 i 3 Maja 1982 r. (2004)
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- 1. rocznica odsłonięcia (2005)

wokół teczek bezpieki

20. rocznica śmierci ks. Popiełuszki

procesy: - dot. Stanisława Śmigla (1980 r.)
- mili-cjant: zbrodnie komuny przedawnione (1982 r.)
- dot. Andrzeja Murawskiego (1982 r.)
- dot. Kazimierza Kozaka (1986 r.)
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(1981 r.)
dot. Artura Wiśniewskiego
(1986 r.)
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dot. Tymczas. Prezydium ZR (1982 r.)
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dot. Andrzeja Zielińskiego ((1984 r.)
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- ZOMO-wiec 1 maja 1982
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nowe dodatki i zmiany

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spotkania kumbatantów : 2002 , 2003 , 2004 , 2005 , 2006  , 2007  
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lista Wildsteina , IPN: konfident, ubek,  poszkodowany w jednym worku
Uwaga! dla konfidentów SB
TW ,,Andrzej"
Dlaczego to wyszło nam inaczej

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Łamanie prawa wyborczego przez urzędników
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