freedom of the press

Police are investigating our drone recording on suspicion of „illicit acquisiton of data”

Atlatszo reporter Gabriella Horn was summoned as a witness by the Fejér County Police Headquarters on Monday. The hearing revealed that an “unknown perpetrator” is being investigated by the police for “illicit acquisiton of data”, which is a crime threatened with imprisonment for up to three years in Hungary. Our colleague was questioned about her story and camera drone video recording about the armored military vehicles which emerged on a lakeside estate owned by Felcsút billionaire Lőrinc Mészáros earlier this year.

“Illicit acquisition of data” is a crime according to the Hungarian Penal Code, punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. This crime is perpetrated by someone who is is secretly searching someone else’s apartment, property, to acquire personal or business secrets, or who is using hidden electronic devices to record such secrets, or obtain data from privately stored or transported messages on a digital communication network.

Átlátszó reporter Gabriella Horn was summoned as a witness on Monday, 26 October by a police officer of the Fejér County Police Headquarters, who informed our colleague that an „unknown perpetrator” is being investigated by the police for the crime of “illicit acquisition of data”.

The police were curious about the circumstances under which Horn wrote her article “Armoured military vehicles emerged on a lakeside estate owned by Lőrinc Mészáros”, and why she thought the story had news value. She was also asked who made the camera drone recording published in the story, and who authorized the publication of the story and the camera drone video at Atlatszo.

In our article published in May 2020, we utilized a camera drone to find out what kind of combat vehicles are stationed on the lakeside estate owned by felcsút billionaire Lőrinc Mészáros on the outskirts of the rural town Bicske, Fejér County.

Armoured military vehicles emerged on a lakeside estate owned by Lőrinc Mészáros – drone video

Two armoured vehicles were photographed recently on one the estates owned by one of Lőrinc Mészáros’s companies, Búzakalász 66 Kft., in Bicske, a town 30 kilometres away from Budapest.

Using the camera drone recording, we were able to identify one of the armored vehicles stationed at the Mészáros estate, a BRDM2-2 type amphibian troop transport vehicle. The other combat vehicle could not be identified because it was covered with a tarpaulin.

Megnéztük közelebbről Mészáros Lőrinc bicskei harckocsijait – Drónvideó from on Vimeo.

According to Dr. Balázs Tóth, attorney, Legal Director of Atlatszo, the crime of „illicit acquisition of data” is out of question in connection with our camera drone recordings, as observation by technical devices means the perception of a person’s movement, behavior, communication, while our recordings did not show any persons. Futhermore, our recording was not made for the purpose of illegal acquisition of private secrets, but to inform the general public about the combat vehicles parked at the residence of an oligarch connected to political power with a thousand threads.

The news value of this is hard enough to doubt.

In a similar case this year, Gyula Balásy, owner of media companies which run government propaganda campaigns for tens of billions of forints of taxpayers money a year, did not like the fact that we published drone shots of his newly bought luxury villa. Accordingto Balásy, this violated his privacy rights, therefore he initiated proceedings at the Data Protection Authority. The authority ruled Balásy’s complaint unfounded, because domestic and international legislation allows for taking camera drone recordings regarding public affairs as part of freedom of the press.

Data Protection Authority rules Atlatszo’s camera drone footage of propaganda tzar’s private property legal

Átlátszó released drone footage taken of the newly purchased luxury mansion of Gyula Balásy and his companies. Balásy is one of the owners in New Land Media Kft. and Lounge Design Kft., organisers of governmental propaganda campaigns for tens of billions of forints every year.

Written and translated by Tamás Bodoky, you can read the Hungarian version of this article here.

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