freedom of the press

Hungarian PM Orban threatens journalists – if someone hits us, we will respond, he said

Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, threatened journalists in his regular Friday morning interview at the public service radio channel. Atlatszo revealed on Monday that Orban used a private jet to travel to Bulgaria for a soccer match and that the government’s business and political elite are using a luxury yacht for holidays. Since its publication, government officials have been trying to frame the story as a defamation attempt that is part of the campaign for next year’s European elections.

’If someone hits us, we will respond. What goes around, comes around,’ Viktor Orban said Friday morning in his regular interview with the public service radio channel.

He said this as a reaction to the reporter’s question about a ’defamatory’ campaign that has just started against him and his government. The reporter was referring to Atlatszo’s investigation published on Monday that revealed that Orban’s closest political and business allies are using a luxury private jet and a yacht. Both vehicles are registered abroad and their ownership is hidden.

Since the publication of our story, several government officials have attempted to publicly downplay the significance of the trips and the vehicles, while opposition politicians have urged an investigation into the matter.

’Look, we usually settle our debts, let’s not feel sorry for ourselves. Hungary has a government at the moment that has the support of the majority of the people,’ Orban said, emphasizing that the majority of Hungarian voters are afraid of migration.

’We are not scared. There are countries in Europe, I will not name them, where politicians are scared to represent the opinion of the majority of the people. This is not us, and if we are attacked, everyone can be sure that we will answer with the appropriate weight, and not only because it is in our own interest, even though we are also human beings. We are not just answering the attacks to protect our honor – though that is important as well – but for the sake of the entire country,’ Orban said.

’Thus, we need to make it clear that if someone hits us, they can expect an answer: what goes around, comes around’ he said.

‘We do not attack anyone, we do not want to force anything on anybody, we do not say bad things about others, we do not smear people, we do not unnecessarily criticize anyone, we do not want to tell people what to do or how to live their lives, what decisions to make. But, when someone wants to do this to us, then we will protect our independence and the Hungarian way of thinking,’ Orban added.

Conspiracy theories spread by pro-govt media

Pro-Orban media has been attacking Atlatszo since we published our story. The most ferocious attack came from pro-government channel Echo TV, where József Horváth claimed that conducting such an investigation – taking photos and drone videos – can most probably only be the work of intelligence agencies.

Horváth was introduced as a ’national security expert’ by the anchor. Horváth was working for the Hungarian civilian intelligence agency until 2002, when the newly formed left-wing government fired him. After that, he was the CEO of UD Zrt, a private security firm that was involved in a high-profile wiretapping scandal that involved now-defunct conservative party, MDF.

UD Zrt was nicknamed ‘Fidesz’s private security firm’ by Orban’s left-wing opposition . Horváth was appointed deputy chief of the military intelligence agency in 2010; he was removed from this position in 2013.

Horváth also claimed that it posed a security risk that someone was able to take a photo of Viktor Orban arriving at Budapest Airport and leaving in the jet posed a security risk. Horváth claims that Orban is a ’valuable target’ to organized crime, ’hostile intelligence services’ and terrorists. He also said that anyone ’trading in’ such information is ’committing a crime.’

Written by Anita Kőműves

Editing by Clare Humphreys


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