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Published: Monday June 23, 2014 MYT 6:35:13 PM
Updated: Monday June 23, 2014 MYT 6:36:43 PM

Polish government 'under attack by crime group': minister

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister Chancellery in Warsaw June 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Adam Stepien/Agencja Gazeta

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister Chancellery in Warsaw June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Adam Stepien/Agencja Gazeta

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's government said on Monday it was under attack from a criminal conspiracy after a magazine published a new round of secretly recorded conversations that have embarrassed officials and left Prime Minister Donald Tusk under pressure to quit.

The opposition has said the government should step down over the recordings, which included the central bank chief discussing ways to help the ruling party avoid election defeat, and the foreign minister calling Polish-U.S. ties worthless.

Attention in Poland has also turned to who could have carried out illegal surveillance on such a scale: the recordings took place at at least two Warsaw restaurants over an extended period and captured on tape more than a dozen officials, politicians and company bosses.

"The government has come under attack from an organised criminal group," Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in comments broadcasts by the TVN24 station.

"We don't know who is behind this, we are not sure about that. It is being studied, I hope that the justice system will establish the identity of these people and their masterminds, that they will be identified and punished."

Excerpts from the secret recordings were published in the weekly news magazine Wprost. The government has said that the remarks of the officials who were secretly recorded were taken out of context, and that they had not broken the law.

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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