Journalists harassed for their reports on Hungary’s anti-Soros campaign


Several journalists working in Hungary for foreign media outlets alerted the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) about the harassment they have been subjected to. The EFJ condemns those attacks and calls on the Hungarian authorities to stop harassing the journalists in question.

“Propagandists”, “spokespeople”, “drug addict”: this is the kind of verbal attacks journalists reporting on Hungary’s campaign against George Soros have received, directly from the government or some pro-governmental media outlets. The EFJ recently submitted the following two cases on the Council of Europe platform for the safety of journalists.

On 5 September 2017, the Hungarian internet portal 888.hu published a list of journalists accused of serving the interests of the American billionaire of Hungarian origin George Soros. The article explicitly names eight journalists, including a photographer and a producer who are Hungarian or of Hungarian origin, working abroad for Politico Brussels, the German public television ZDF, Bloomberg, and the Reuters news agency. These journalists were described as “foreign propagandists” and “spokespeople” of George Soros. The international media were presented as “biased” and “stigmatizing.” Their only aim would be to “discredit” Hungary on the international scene.

On 28 September 2017, Hungarian government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács verbally attacked Politico correspondent in Hungary Lili Bayer. Kovács first insinuated in a Twitter post that Bayer is on drugs. He further elaborated by claiming on the same day, in an interview with ATV private channel, that “calling someone an antisemite or a Nazi is a strong drug, and the lady really struggles to get off it […] She is a drug addict of calling people antisemites and Nazis.” He was replying to Bayer’s tweet drawing a parallel between the 1920’s first Hungarian anti-Jewish measures and the state-funded campaign against American billionaire of Hungarian origin George Soros.

He went on by saying that Lili Bayer is not a journalist but a political activist serving Soros’ interests: “I already spoke about this with the editor-in-chief of Politico, which is one of the papers where the lady works, I already put this forward, if I remember correctly, sometime at the beginning of the year, and one thing is for sure, that political activists should not hide behind a journalist badge. And what’s also for sure is that Lili Bayer from now on, for us, I think, is not a journalist.” He added that he will no longer work with her.

Lili Bayer was one of the journalists publicly accused of serving the interests of George Soros. Government spokesperson Kovács also criticized Bayer by name in March and July blog posts, while pro-government media outlets attacked her by name in eleven articles since February 2017.

were also targeted by Zoltán Kovács’ blog on 4 October. The journalist and the media outlet are accused of “disinformation” and of “journalistic malpractice” for the FT’s media coverage of George Soros, which “turn(s) a blind eye to that other side of the story”.

Credit photo: screenshot 888.hu’s article