Transparency International Snubs Investigation into its Alleged Interference with National Sovereignty

The Sovereignty Protection Office has launched a specific, comprehensive investigation, first into the activities of Transparency International Hungary (TIM) and then into Átlátszó. Although the parties concerned have refused to cooperate with the authority, it will continue its investigations, Mandiner reports.

The office said that, judging by the reports published on TIM’s website, the organization is considered foreign-funded, with a significant share of foreign funding in their annual budget; and that, in accordance with the law, the office investigates all organizations that use foreign funding to influence the electoral will. Transparency’s name often comes up in political cases, in the so-called left-wing sphere, the office says.

TIM has lodged a constitutional complaint against the creation and activities of the Sovereignty Protection Office and several provisions of the Sovereignty Protection Act, considering it incompatible with the Constitution.

The actions of the Sovereignty Protection Office are a clear violation of freedom of expression,”

the organization said.

When contacted by Mandiner, the Sovereignty Protection Office wrote: “The complaint filed by TIM is complete nonsense from a constitutional point of view. Their action is also incomprehensible because in recent months they have filed several investigative reports, thereby accepting the operation of the office.”

On June 25, another report was filed: in addition to Transparency, the office launched a comprehensive investigation into Átlátszó. The portal’s publisher responded that it was not obliged to answer the questions posed by the agency because “activity aimed at influencing the will of the electorate” meant political campaigning on party or municipal political issues, and Átlátszó did not engage in such activity. The letter, signed by Tamás Richárd Bokodi (Managing Director of Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft.), also states that they only share information with the office that they would provide to anyone else who asks them, and that this information is available on their website.

Mandiner also asked the office about this issue, and they replied:

They cannot prevent the work of the Sovereignty Protection Office by trying to obstruct it. However, their refusal to answer indicates that they do not wish to make their operations transparent.”

In their reply, they explicitly stressed that the ongoing investigations will be pursued by the Sovereignty Protection Office, despite the obstruction, and that the reports will be sent to the organizations concerned. “However, it is already clear from the information and experience gathered that further legislation to strengthen Hungarian sovereignty will be needed and the office is working on this,” they added.

On Monday, Gergely Gulyás, the minister responsible for the Prime Minister’s office, spoke of a regulation to be drafted by the Ministry of Justice to further promote transparency of political parties and the media. According to Mandiner, the Sovereignty Protection Office is already working on a comprehensive package of proposals that would “impose greater transparency on political lobbying organizations and the media,” in order to reveal “who and with what intentions these entities are funded from abroad.”

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Via Mandiner, Featured image: Facebook/Transparency International Magyarország

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