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Press FreedomHungary

RSF lists Viktor Orban as 'enemy of press freedom'

July 5, 2021

The Hungarian prime minister is the first European leader on Reporters Without Borders' regular list. He is joined by 36 other heads of government, including two female Asian leaders.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
RSF says Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has brought the media landscape under his control 'step by step'Image: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) added Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to its "enemies of press freedom" list on Monday.

It is the first time a European head of state has appeared on the list.

The group said in Berlin: "Since Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party came to power in 2010, they have brought Hungary's media landscape under their control step by step."

In its listing, RSF noted Orban is the "self-proclaimed champion of 'illiberal democracy,'" adding, "The methods may be subtle or brazen, but they are always efficient."

Orban slammed for 'predatory methods'

RSF said Orban targeted media outlets with "predatory methods," which include "political-economic scams, discrediting, self-censorship."

 It added that Orban's "favorite targets" are "independent media holdouts."

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the media in Hungary in the crosshairs
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the media in Hungary in the crosshairsImage: Getty Images/AFP/A. Kisbenedek

The press freedom watchdog noted that the regional press in Hungary has been fully owned by entrepreneurs friendly to Orban since the summer of 2017.

"In the autumn of 2018, almost 500 pro-government media companies were merged into a holding company to centrally coordinate their coverage," the report said. 

Hungary is ranked at 92 of 180 countries in this year's RSF World Press Freedom Index.

Who else is among the 'enemies of press freedom'?

In total, 37 heads of government are listed in what RSF has termed its "Predators Gallery."

Two Asian female leaders, Carrie Lam of Hong Kong and Sheika Hasina of Bangladesh, are also counted among the "enemies of press freedom."

Lam, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are new to the list, which has been published since 2001.

Jamal Khashoggi and Mohammed bin Salman
Jamal Khashoggi and Mohammed bin Salman

The press freedom group notes bin Salman stands accused of a crime against humanity for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam was tied to the recent closure of Hong Kong's Apple Daily after a massive police raid.

ar/rt  (dpa, Reuters)