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Hungary: Presidents in Correspondence, Journalist in Blind Copy

Attila Mong, a Hungarian journalist, has obtained the letter sent by José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán. The journalist has published in three parts the letter on his blog Napi Fix. The whole letter in English and in Hungarian is available in this post.

Mr. Mong was fired in January from a public radio channel for observing a minute of silence on the morning news program, protesting against the then introduced media law.

He has published an article [hu] about the content of the letter first on origo.hu, a Hungarian news site. This happened following an interruption to the talks between the Hungarian government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week because of the two laws the government insisted on introducing. In his letter, Mr. Barroso advised the Hungarian PM to withdraw the two cardinal laws on the Hungarian National Bank and on financial stability for not being compatible with the European Union's legal system:

[...] These laws contain provisions which could be in contradiction with the Treaty and interfere with previously issued European policy advice. The Commission has serious doubts on the compatibility of the current version of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB) bill with Article 130 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I also regret that the last drafts of these laws have not been subject to a consultation with the ECB which repeatedly expressed its concerns. [...]

Since the credibility of the journalist had been questioned by several government officials (by the government's spokesman, Fidesz faction leader János Lázár [hu]), Mr. Mong decided to share the letter on his blog, mixing the order of the three parts and dedicating them to the officials and the minister leading the talks with the IMF. (Part one, Part two, Part three [hu]) In the fourth post [hu], he shared the whole text and pictures, confirming that he had a hard copy of the letter. This post was dedicated to Máté Kocsis and Sándor Pintér.

“How could the letter of the president of the European Commission get to journalist Attila Mong?” was the question raised by the member of the Hungarian Parliament, Máté Kocsis (also known for being the advisor on homeless issues of the governing party). The formal question [hu] was sent to the Minister of the Interior, Sándor Pintér, just a few days after the Hungarian Constitutional Court ruled out a part of the much-debated Hungarian media law in effect since January 2011. The decision was made in favour of journalistic source protection.

Signature of José Manuel Barroso on the letter sent to Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, as published on Napi Fix

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