Accidentally, the name of Miklós Szánthó, director of Center for Fundamental Rights, a GONGO widely known for one-sided statements in defense of the government’s standpoints, also remained visible on the vice-president’s submission
At first instance, EKINT won a lawsuit against Szilárd Németh, vice-president of Fidesz on 1st of December 2017. We sued Szilárd Németh for defamation of character as he had been claiming that EKINT had received a lot more money from George Soros’s foundations than it was stated in its public financial report. According to his statement published on 17 March on a Hungarian news website called Mandiner “there is much, much bigger dough in the background”. A serious accusation, especially since it implicates that we have forged our public benefit report. Németh also added that his information regarding EKINT’s finances came from national security services as part of their report addressed to the Parliament’s Committee on National Security – and as such could be confirmed by any committee-member, including representatives from the opposition.
Szilárd Németh could not prove his allegations damaging the reputation of Eötvös Károly Policy Institute. Nevertheless, his accusations were intimidating not only because they referred to EKINT as part of the “Soros-network”, but also because lawfully only suspects of serious crimes or terrorism could be put under secret surveillance. At the same time however, Bernadett Szél, member of the Committee on National Security directly confuted his statements at a press conference in September. Szél clarified that according to the Committee minutes EKINT was never even mentioned during the Committee meetings.
As a result, the court condemned Szilárd Németh to publicly apologise for EKINT while also obliged him to pay 350 thousand forints grievance fee.
Not an inessential addition to the case is that the “evidence” (which was a printed version of an e-mail) presented by the lawyer of Szilárd Németh was not only filled with calculation errors but also showed that the sender of the letter was Miklós Szánthó, director of the Center for Fundamental Rights, who frequently presents himself in different mediums as an impartial expert, independent from the government or the governing parties. (In his letter he calls Németh “Sissy”.) The Center for Fundamental Rights otherwise declares in its mission statement that the purpose of its activities is “to prepare assessments and research papers on a professional level regarding the functioning of rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights” and that it is “committed to the values of rule of law, tradition, and the value of liberty”.
7 December 2017