Press watchdog places Hungarian Prime Minister Orban on “predator” list

PARIS (AP) – The press monitoring body Reporters Without Borders has put Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on its list of “predators”, the first time a Western European leader has been placed on the list of leaders state or government that “repress”. massively ”on freedom of the press.

The list published Monday includes 37 leaders.

Two women, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the Administrative Head of Hong Kong, were also added to the list, along with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It was the first time in five years that the watchdog, known by its French initials RSF, had published its list of press freedom predators.

The report states that Orban “has regularly and effectively undermined media pluralism and independence since his return to power in 2010” using “various predatory techniques”.

“The methods can be subtle or brazen, but they are always effective,” the report said, citing 80% control of the media through purchases by oligarchs close to the ruling Hungarian Fidesz party. Private media in Hungary are discriminated against in access to government information and advertising and denigrated as providers of “fake news”, according to the report.

In return, Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs criticized France-based RSF, saying “they should be called ‘Fake News Without Borders’. The report was part of “the latest wave of attacks on Hungary”.

Other impediments to media freedom include Bin Salman, the 35-year-old Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who wields daily power in the kingdom.

“His repressive methods include espionage and threats that have sometimes led to kidnappings, torture and other unthinkable acts. The gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi has exposed a predatory method that is simply barbaric, ”the RSF report said.

Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist who went to the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents to get married and was brutally killed inside in 2018.

Women were also on the press predator list.

Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since 2017, “has proven to be the puppet of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and now openly supports his predatory policy towards the media,” the report said. He noted the recent closure of Hong Kong’s leading independent newspaper, Apple Daily, and the imprisonment of its founder, Jimmy Lai.

Lam was joined on the predator list by Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh since 2009.

“His predatory exploits include the passing of a digital security law in 2018 which led to more than 70 journalists and bloggers to justice,” RSF said.

The watchdog leader urged world governments to disown the practices used by the leaders he singled out and recognize the positive contributions made by an independent press.

“We must not let their methods become the new normal,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said of leaders his group saw as predators.

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