Transitions Online 12.12.2014
Recent bad blood between Hungary and the United States has gotten worse, with one of six officials banned from entering America in October filing a lawsuit against the U.S. charge d’affaires, Andre Goodfriend, according to MTI, the Hungarian News Agency.
Tax chief Ildiko Vida filed a defamation complaint with the country’s chief prosecutor and lodged a court case for slander, the tax agency’s lawyer, Barnabas Futo, told MTI.
The defamation complaint is based on a recent interview in which Goodfriend said the “U.S. Embassy in Budapest had information about fraudulent activities within the Hungarian tax authority, which, to his knowledge, have not been investigated,” MTI writes. Goodfriend said he had provided evidence to the Hungarian government.
Goodfriend attended an 11 December conference on corruption at which Hungary’s interior minister, Sandor Pinter, pointedly told the gathering that “not only is corruption bad but so is accusing people of corruption.”
The U.S. diplomat has said that all six people are government employees or affiliated with the government but has refused to elaborate, citing U.S. privacy laws.
However Vida admitted on 5 November that she was among the six banned from entry to the United States on corruption suspicions, which she rejects.
The suit, which is likely to go nowhere due to Goodfriend’s diplomatic immunity, was brought under pressure from Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said on 8 December that he would fire Vida unless she brought it, the Budapest Business reports.
Orban urged the U.S. diplomat “not to hide behind his diplomatic immunity,” but rather to “stand up, be a man, and take responsibility for what he has claimed.”
The charge d’affaires said earlier that the only way to discuss the entry ban was for Vida “to resort to applying for a visa, and in this process, we can debate why we introduced the ban.”
Relations between Hungary and the United States turned especially frosty in September, when in a speech President Barack Obama counted the Hungarian government among those that aim to intimidate civil society.
Hungarian tax chief sues U.S. diplomat over corruption remarks