Hungary / Europe & Central Asia

  
Drawing of a hand holding a phone that displays an eye while spyware downloads. Audiovisual icons show the range of media spyware can access or activate.

Special report: When spyware turns phones into weapons

How zero-click surveillance threatens reporters, sources, and global press freedom By Fred Guterl Published October 13, 2022 Aida Alami has always been wary of surveillance. As a journalist from Morocco, a state with a track record of intercepting phone calls and messages of political rivals, activists, and journalists, she habitually took precautions to protect her…

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Hungarian journalists targeted by spyware have little hope EU can help

Szabolcs Panyi was not even remotely surprised when Amnesty International’s tech team confirmed in 2021 that his cell phone had been infiltrated by Pegasus spyware for much of 2019. Panyi, a journalist covering national security, high-level diplomacy, and corruption for Hungarian investigative outlet Direkt36, had already long factored into his everyday work that his communications…

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David Kaye: Here’s what world leaders must do about spyware

In late June, the general counsel of NSO Group, the Israeli company responsible for the deeply intrusive spyware tool, Pegasus, appeared before a committee established by members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Called the PEGA Committee colloquially, the Parliament established it to investigate allegations that EU member states and others have used “Pegasus and equivalent…

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Hungarian journalists fear Orbán will use election win to tighten grip on independent media

As Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán celebrated his landslide election win on Sunday with jubilant jibes at the European Union’s “bureaucrats in Brussels” and international media, the country’s independent journalists braced themselves for an even harsher media climate during his Fidesz party’s unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office. Orbán has systematically eroded Hungary’s independent…

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Hungarian government bypasses court order allowing journalists to report from public hospitals

Berlin, February 11, 2022 — Hungarian authorities should not grant state media preferential access to public facilities, and should ensure that independent news outlets can cover the COVID-19 pandemic freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday. On February 4, the Hungarian government’s executive branch issued a decree empowering the Operational Corps, the government pandemic…

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Hungary’s Szabolcs Panyi on how Pegasus surveillance has hindered his reporting

It took five months for Hungary to acknowledge publicly that it had bought the Pegasus spyware allegedly used to hack the phones of hundreds around the world. In November, Lajos Kósa, a top official from Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, acknowledged the purchase in a media interview after a parliamentary meeting; Minister of the Interior Sándor…

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Hungary’s Klubrádió owner András Arató on how the station is responding to the loss of its broadcast license

After more than 10 years providing a key platform for reporters and listeners to voice criticism of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán via FM radio, the Budapest-based Klubrádió station is now operating entirely online after authorities blocked its broadcasting license. The move was the culmination of a long campaign to force the station off air,…

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Hungarian court convicts reporter Júlia Halász on criminal defamation charge

Berlin, May 28, 2021 — Hungarian authorities should not contest journalist Júlia Halász’s appeal of a recent criminal defamation verdict, and should reform the country’s laws to decriminalize speech, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On May 6, an appellate court in Budapest upheld a lower court’s November 12, 2020, ruling to convict Halász,…

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Hungarian police question journalists for ‘illicit data collection’ after use of drone footage

Berlin, October 28, 2020 — Hungarian police must stop harassing journalists Gabriella Horn and Balázs Gulyás, and drop any investigation into their sources and their use of drone footage to report on information of public interest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On October 26, the business crime unit of the Hungarian police in…

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A woman facing away from the camera looks at a large display of magazines and newspapers.

Hungarian court gags investigative report, citing EU data protection law

Berlin, October 21, 2020—A gag order issued by a Hungarian court has cited European Union data privacy rules to prevent the weekly Magyar Narancs newspaper from publishing an article on Budapest-based soft drinks company Hell Energy and its owners, according to the article’s author, Ákos Keller-Alánt, and local news reports. The court in Budapest issued…

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