Support Gergely Nyilas – Hungary’s Günter Wallraff

The Orbán government has decided to press charges against Gergely Nyilas, a journalist who works for the popular Index news site. Nyilas wrote a series of reports on the treatment of refugees, posing as “Georgij Kulakov,” a migrant from Kyrgyzstan, to write his pieces. According to the government, Mr. Nyilas broke the law by registering as a refugee.

Gergely Nyilas, Hungarian journalist in refugee garb.

Gergely Nyilas, Hungarian journalist in refugee garb.

Many of us feel strongly about press freedom and I think that Mr. Nyilas has the right to publish undercover just like German journalist, Günter Wallraff did. He is 73 years old and a legend today. In 1974, he was arrested and tortured as a Greek demonstrator by the military dictatorship in Athens. He was undercover when arrested. He purposely did not carry his German passport that could identify him as a foreigner. After his identity was revealed, Mr. Wallraff was convicted and spent time in a Greek jail.

In 1977, Mr. Wallraff worked as an undercover editor for the tabloid Bild-Zeitung in Hanover, calling himself Hans Esser. Later he wrote about the manipulative journalistic methods of Alex Springer Verlag.

Without Wallraff’s undercover methods the crimes of the Greek dictatorship against their own people and Springer Verlag’s crocked journalism would not have been known to the public. In 1990 an English-language film The Man Inside was made from his story, starring Jürgen Prochnow and the Peter Coyote.

A couple of weeks ago, the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a report stating that the European Union seldom punishes member countries for offending press freedom. Since the Orbán government took power in 2010, it has been accused of meddling in Hungary’s newsrooms, imposing taxes and regulations unfairly and harassing media outlets critical of the government.

According to Kati Marton, an author and a Hungarian-American board member of CPJ, Orbán’s Hungary is the most egregious practitioner of controlled press. “They are making it virtually impossible for journalists to do their job.” CPJ even suggested sanctioning the Hungarian government via Article 7, a clause in the EU treaty that could suspend a member state’s voting rights at the European Commission if it is found in “serious and persistent breach” of treaty principles. The violation of press freedom is the canary in the coal mine and it is about more than just the press. “When a country starts rolling back press freedoms, it never stops there” claims Marton.

She is right. The Orbán government has started a war against opposition news outlets. They have made fact-finding journalism almost impossible, and started prosecuting critical journalists just like the Greek military dictatorship did decades ago. No surprise, since the Orbán system looks more and more like a dictatorship.

György Lázár

9 Comments

  1. “The Orbán government has started a war against opposition news outlets. They have made fact-finding journalism almost impossible, and started prosecuting critical journalists just like the Greek military dictatorship did decades ago. No surprise, since the Orbán system looks more and more like a dictatorship.”

    This is a bald lie.

  2. There are distinct differences between free press or journalist(s) breaking laws freely. This article is deceiving and a blatant lie. I support Mr. Nyilas for jail!

  3. Real investigative journalism is almost extinct in Hungary. Nyilas deserves an award, not a jail sentence!

  4. I don’t know what to think before getting answers to may questions of mine. Just questions and one or two of my own amateurish answers that I only can answer.

    Infiltration of the migrants and posing as a migrant for writing reports is the breaching of the law? I don’t think so.
    Officially registering himself as a refugee is the breaching of the law?
    Can be, document forgery without notifying the authorities about his action, and why was this last risky step necessary?

    We must listen to him what he says.

    What did he write about the situation, the truth or falsified the fact?
    Did he incriminate the Hungarian government or praised for treating the refugees in his report.
    Was his report objective or biased against the government or the refugees?
    Did he make sober and objective comparison between the Hungarian and other countries’ treatment, did he fairly cover the whole situation or only highlighted the negatives of the Hungarian authorities?
    Did he write the truth or manipulated?
    Was his report eventually helpful solving the crisis or aggravated it?
    Did the government punish him for his report i.e. because he wrote negative about he government and would have let him off the hook if he had written positive, or did the government punish him only and solely for the document forgery?

    True, the Orban government is keeping the media in firm hands. Little wonder, the same happens to all mass media all around the world, this is not a specific Hungarian problem as the 80% of the world’s media is in the hands 6 of giant corporate/conglomerates and is strictly controlled.
    Yet, in Hungary there are many relatively outspoken mass media, informative and revealing such as the atlatszo hu.

    There is always hope. In my eyes the merit of the free press is not simply being offensive, critical, and persuasive but being truly revealing and printing out serious evidences and real hidden data of the work of the government.

  5. Journalists! You tend to forget that you are just ordinary people with an ordinary job. Therefore, you have no more rights than anybody else has. You tend to believe you are above the law and you tend to ignore the rules in order to advance your own carrier and to earn more money. You are capable of doing anything in order to achieve this. You do not care the truth at all.

    The authorities’ duty is to maintain law and order. This is what we expect from them. Citizens’ duty is to observe the laws whatever job they have. Migrants, especially those who seek asylum, have to be law abiding. They should not lie, they should not use fake IDs, they should not protest and attack the policemen when they ask them to comply with the EU and Hungarian rules. Especially, when thousands arrive at the same time to the Hungarian border.

    Those journalists who participated in the attack of the Hungarian border at Roszke, while the official checkpoint was open, committed a crime. They were aware that according to Hungarian law attacking the nation’s border is a ‘terrorist act’. Even so, they did not try to prevent it. They rather joined the aggressive illegal migrant crowd and they were supporting those who kicked the border fence and attacked the police. We can see them at the front among the most aggressive attackers on the video. In addition, although, journalists knew that was a ‘police operation area’, when the police tried to catch the most aggressive attackers, the journalists stood in their way by which they prevented the policemen to do their job effectively. They had no right to complain when a policemen pushed them aside since journalist were committing a crime by holding them up and in this way helping the attackers to escape.

    Preventing authorities from doing their job, especially in a different country, is a crime. Journalists cannot be and should not be exceptions. To come up with a fake identity in order to mislead authorities is a crime too. Ordinary people go to jail for it. Journalist are ordinary people, so if they break the law they have to go to jail for it. If journalists presence on a police operation area prevent the law enforcers to do their job properly or even endanger the policeman or anyone else’s life, journalists have to go to jail.

  6. Avatar Charlie London says:

    Elizabeth! You are a perfect little communist for life under Kadar.

    Just an accepting little citizen who accepts the propaganda from the communist elite!

    Just like North Korea – and how life used to be under Nicolae Ceaușescu.

    Orban just loves you! When you next fête him make sure you stand prominently at the front.

    He’ll kiss your hand! (And you’ll hope the photographers are there to snap it.)

    You good little communist you!

  7. Charlie,
    This is not the first time when in a situation of “difficult to make an intelligent objection” to someone’s comment, you are opting for getting personal!
    Just like now with Elizabeth’s quite logical and realistic comment above.
    If you haven’t been told before, well, then, for your own good, I’m telling you now that with such behaviour you are actually not discrediting the opposite side. No. You are actually discrediting yourself, and you are making yourself look and sound like a f..l. Keep this in mind for future, please.
    Thank you, Charlie London.

    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Elizabeth is a nasty antesemetic xenophobic person – a disgrace, if a ‘representative’ of Hungary.

      Alas I fear she (if it is a she) is too representative of many Hungarians.

      And you defend her?

      Hungary. Only Hungary.

  8. Charlie,
    No. I’m not defending her. I’m defending her “right of speech” only, whatever she want to say. Have you heard such right before, and did you accept it as a general rule, Charlie? I mean the right of free speech – for everybody? Not only for you and your mates, Charlie. Everybody. Even myself.
    So, please argue with her, fight against her words with yours, tell her, why she’s wrong. That is your right Charlie London.
    But you have no right to turn personal on her. This is basic behavioural rule. And that was my initial point, Charlie. Thank’s.

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