It is no longer just opposition politicians and activists calling for government accountability on Hungary’s Pegasus surveillance scandal, but journalists, lawyers, and and the alleged victims themselves. The Prosecutor’s Office is getting involved too, and the issue is escalating.
Hungarian Journalist Organizations Up in Arms Over Pegasus
The Association of Hungarian Newspapers (MLE) and the National Association of Hungarian Journalists (MÚOSZ) have both issued statements on the issue, voicing their frustrations.
MLE voiced its worries around the scandal, since it could stir uncertainty and doubt among journalists and information providers, saying that it compromises the foundational pillar of source protection and confidentiality.
Meanwhile MÚOSZ wants an explanation from the government, because if the accusations are true, these crimes are “unacceptable, outrageous, and illegal.” The organization called on Hungarian authorities to provide information on the issue.
Lawyers’ Association Stands Up for Colleagues
The Budapest Bar Association (BÜK), a large public body of Hungarian lawyers, published a statement addressing the lack of concrete evidence in the issue, but raising the prospect of a serious violation if it turns out that such surveillance did in fact happen. The association specifically mentions the three lawyers named in the Pegasus project list, one of them being János Bánáti, the BÜK president.
Due to a lack of knowledge around the exact and verifiable details, the Association emphasizes on the basis of principle that it condemns every proven action involving the surveillance of anyone, but especially lawyers practicing their profession, with illegally accessed tools and/or methods.”
DK and Activist Want to Take Fidesz to Court
Olga Kálmán, a representative of the social-liberal democratic coalition, announced on Facebook that she has reported the Hungarian government over a “suspicion of misconduct committed in breach of official duty.”
Independent news portal Telex asked the Prosecutor’s Office whether they received such reports and whether they have initiated an investigation. The Service responded that “the report received by the Office is being analyzed by our departments under the appropriate jurisdiction and authority.”
According to liberal news portal 444, another report has been made to the Office of the Prosecutor General by István Tényi, a public figure known for making such reports. The Office confirmed this as well.
Two of the alleged victims of the surveillance scandal are former CEU student Adrien Beauduin and businessman Zoltán Varga. Beaduin is considering taking legal action against the Hungarian government, as he would not like it if “they get away with this unscathed, like they do with everything else.” Meanwhile, Varga’s representative, Gábor Papp, made a statement saying they will not share any further information until they confirm whether Varga’s rights were violated.
Featured photo illustration by Vivien Cher Benko/MTI/Prime Minister’s Press Office