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9th November, 2018

Journo prosecuted for story based on public record

The international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Hungarian prosecutors to drop criminal charges filed against journalist András Dezső because of his investigative work.
Gulnoza Said, head of the CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia division, declared “A journalistic investigation based on publicly available records is a service, not a crime”.

Dezső, a reporter with Index, first learned of the charges against him on October 31 from pro-government website 888.hu, which cited information from the prosecutor’s office.

Dezső is accused of misuse of personal data, due to an article published by Index on March 12 about a Hungarian woman who moved back to Hungary from Sweden, who told state media that she had returned because of her fear of Muslim refugees and migrants in Sweden.

Dezső, citing public records in Sweden, reported that the woman had been convicted in Sweden of seven counts of defamation, violation of the public trust, and harassment. Website 24 reported that she had returned to Hungary in 2016.

Hungarian prosecutors acted on a complaint from the woman that Dezső had published sensitive personal data about her without her consent.

The prosecution has proposed that the court convict the reporter without a hearing, based only on documents presented by the prosecution, HVG reported.

Prosecutors did not answer the CPJ’s question as to why Dezső is charged with a crime when his report was based on pubic records in Sweden.

Sources regularly consulted, with abbreviations used in text: Népszabadság (N); Magyar Hírlap (MH); Világgazdaság (VG); Napi Gazdaság (NG); Magyar Nemzet (MN); Népszava (Nsz); Kossuth Rádió news (KR); nightly TV news (TV).

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