Opposition leaders have not settled on the subject of Hungary’s Pegasus spyware scandal, declaring that the government needs to be held accountable. While some are saying that Fidesz’s silence is the same as an admission of guilt, others are saying that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán should simply resign if the spying allegations turn out to be true. Regardless of what people believe should be done, the legislative bodies in charge of investigating such issues have not stepped into action.
A decision on a potential investigation into the Pegasus scandal by the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) will only be made after August 3, since that is when the president of the organization returns from his vacation.
Investigation of Hungary’s Pegasus Scandal Not Expected Until August 3
Attila Péterfalvi told government-critical conservative weekly Magyar Hang that many reports had reached his organization regarding the issue, and that they will certainly be looking into it.
“Current news refers to covert information gathering, which the specialist service can execute with the permission of the Justice Minister or the permission of a judge,” he explained. If there is an investigation, NAIH will be able determine whether this was provided or not.
The amount of time allotted in the case of an administrative procedure will be 60 days, while the time allotted for an official inquiry will be 150 days, with a possible 150-day extension.
Opposition PM Candidate Péter Márki-Zay Wants Orbán to Resign If Found Guilty of Illegal Surveillance
Mayor of Hódmezővásárhely and independent prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay has joined in the description of this scandal as the “Hungarian Watergate.” He argues that if the Fidesz government is found guilty of conducting illegal surveillance, the prime minister should step down.
Hungary cannot be ruled by a head of state under whom these kinds of scandals can happen. (…) there is only one way Viktor Orbán can prove that Hungary is a democracy, or that a hint of rule of law still exists: by resigning.”
Márki-Zay stated at a press conference that he does not believe he was among the people whose phones were tapped by the government, but he is willing to hand his phone over to Amnesty International’s professionals to check whether it was.
Still, the Everybody’s Hungary Movement leader brought up nine instances where he believes the government had been watching him, including in 2018 when spyware was allegedly found on his personal laptop.
What is this if not a dictatorship? When conceptual lawsuits exist in court, when the government conducts false hate-spreading campaigns, when an opposition politician only gets 5 minutes to speak on public media, when the authorities eavesdrop on innocent citizens?”
BP Mayor: Gov’t Silence on Pegasus Scandal Equals Guilt
Mayor of Budapest and opposition prime ministerial candidate, Gergely Karácsony, made a Facebook post raising two questions that he would like the government to answer:
Did the Special Service for National Security purchase and use the surveillance software called Pegasus? Did Justice Minister Judit Varga or her predecessor give permission for covert data collection on Mayor György Gémesi or journalists Szabolcs Panyi, András Szabolcs, and Dávid Dercsényi?”
Karácsony repeated that any response from the government other than yes or no is the equivalent of an admission of guilt.
Ferenc Gyurcsány Says Fidesz is Finished
Leader of the Democratic Coalition (DK), Ferenc Gyurcsány, stated that if the accusations against the government are true, it can be concluded that the Orbán government is made up of traitorous criminals.
It is primarily the interest of this government to reveal the truth. After all, everything will soon be revealed, after the change of administration at the latest. Because in this international controversy they will not be able to eliminate the evidence, and neither Israel nor the USA will cover up Orbán’s crimes.”
The DK leader believes it is best for the government to do something while it is in power, “so that it does not need to respond to obvious questions in a completely hostile environment.” “They are through,” he added, “The only thing they have power over now is how ugly the end will be.”
LMP Calls for Committee to Hold Fidesz to Account
Centrist green party LMP is calling for the National Security Committee to hold a meeting to hear out the government officials responsible for the scandal, as well as the leaders of the government agencies involved. Like many other opposition politicians, Krisztina Hohn and Péter Ungár stand by the position that a response of silence is an admission of guilt.
Due to Fidesz members of the Committee choosing not to attend, however, the Security Committee has been rendered incapable of performing its role in the matter. Ungár believes that, based off its actions, the government is hiding something.
Jobbik Leader: “What other tools does this cowardly regime want to employ?”
Leader of right wing Jobbik party Péter Jakab made a Facebook post reacting to Direkt36’s article shared by Telex, which responds to the actions of the Orbán government in the Pegasus scandal. Highly critical of the government’s actions, Jakab raised the question of how far the Orbán administration is willing to go in the pursuit of such goals.
“What other tools does this cowardly regime want to employ to defend itself? How many government-critical people’s phones have they broken into, and how many more do they want?” the party leader asked, saying that after journalists, businessmen, and politicians, “your phones” will be next.
Featured photo illustration via the Hungarian Socialist Party’s Facebook page