Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Hungarian Watergate

September 3rd, 2011

A pro-government commentator believes that Socialist officials guilty of illegal practices while in government should be jailed, or at least voluntarily withdraw from politics. Left wing analysts don’t believe the latest spy story.

Two pro-government papers, Heti Válasz and Magyar Nemzet have reported on a secret, ongoing investigation concerning former counter-espionage officials. They are suspected of illegally tapping the telephones of prominent right wing leaders in the mid 2000s, under the then prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and his close associate, György Szilvásy, who served as cabinet minister in charge of the secret services.  In the course of an earlier probe, which was reported by BudaPost in August, investigators apparently came across a computer hard disk belonging to the former counter-espionage chief Sándor Laborc with files on two right wing leaders, the current Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Parliament Speaker László Kövér. The Prime Minister himself said in a televised interview that he and his wife had been under scrutiny with the aim of mapping the full network of their acquaintances. According to the two conservative papers, these operations were launched within the parameters of an investigation which aimed to uncover who leaked the PM Gyurcsány’s infamous “we have been lying” speech in 2006.

In an editorial in Magyar Hírlap, Gyula T. Máté argues that in the West, which is usually considered by the Socialists as a model to follow, such an event would immediately entail severe court sentences or at least voluntary exile from politics on the part of the culprits. “But the protagonists of the tapping scandal and the Socialist corruption… rather than emigrating from politics, think of returning to power… and discrediting Viktor Orbán and László Kövér, through their media and their informal international ties”.

Jenő Veress, a leading commentator at Népszava feels that the story aired by the two right-wing papers sounds phony: “Ex-minister György Szilvásy must be right when he says that someone wants to divert public attention from something big.” (Mr Szilvásy told Népszava that the Prime Minister must be preparing for tough restrictive measures if his people come out with such a story.) Veress wonders who could seriously believe the tale about a counter-espionage chief forgetting illegal files on his service computer.

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság criticises the authorities for refusing to comment on the latest spy-case on the grounds that it involves state secrets. If so, someone has breached those secrets, and should be prosecuted – the left wing daily contends.

Tags: , ,