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Prosecutor's Office insists on punishing a journalist of Index.hu

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2020.02.07. 19:26

Though last September, the II. and III. District Court dropped the charges against our colleague András Dezső in the absence of a crime, the Budapest Prosecutor's Office presses on - on a technicality, they successfully appealed the court decision, therefore, the procedure will recommence.

In March 2018, our colleague wrote a piece on a certain Natalie Contessa af Sandeberg, a Swedish-Hungarian woman who, in an interview on Hungarian public media, claimed that she moved back to Hungary because public safety in Sweden was deteriorating due to the influx of migrants. 

But as Dezső found in public databases maintained by the Swedish government, the woman had been sentenced for seven counts of criminal libel, crimes against the public trust, and harassment - and based on information in the official (and openly available) documents, the article also questioned some of the claims she made about her life in Sweden.

Even though Dezső only referred to the woman as "C." in his article, she still pressed charges against the journalist for misuse of personal data, as she was identifiable in the public media's original interview that was embedded in the article, and the court - in a written procedure, without trial - first found our colleague guilty and gave him a warning.

Dezső insisted on a trial though, after which the case was transferred to another judge, who (still without a trial) dismissed the case, reasoning in his decision that by definition, Dezső did not commit a crime, as his act was not dangerous to society. In his article, he named the defendant in a criminal case of public interest, and as the Swedish criminal proceedings were not in their early stages anymore, Dezső was only doing his job.

Now, however, this decision was overturned by the Budapest Appeals Court due to a procedural error - according to the press release of the Prosecutor's Office, the second judge should have held a preparatory trial before dropping the charges, therefore the case was remanded to the original court for a new trial.

(Cover: András Dezső. Photo: Tamás Kaszás / Index)

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