Open Letter to Mr. Pittella

Dear Mr. Pittella,

I have read your statement about the suspension of the Hungarian daily Népszabadság with great apprehension. In order to make myself clear, I would like to describe briefly the history of the newspaper you chose to defend.

The daily was established in November 1956 to serve the purposes of Dictator János Kádár. Those were the days when occupying Soviet Troops crushed the Hungarian uprising and freedom fight and, us a consequence when 200.000 Hungarians had to leave their country.

Népszabadság zealously served the interests of those in power for decades. This was the daily that reported the execution of Imre Nagy in 1958 and much later suppressed news of the nuclear disaster of the Chernobyl power plant for several days.

After the fall of communism in 1990 Népszabadság was privatized. However MSZP, the successor party of the communists maintained partial ownership through a foundation. There were no voices of the protest on your behalf at the time – maybe you did not think this violated the freedom of the press. You also failed to comment on the amount of money (more than 300.000 Euros) the party received for selling its share in the newspaper in 2015. Nevertheless you are protesting now, as the owner has decided to stop financing an enterprise sustaining huge loses (almost 17 million Euros in less than a decade).

It is a real pity you take part in this political witch-hunt. I am truly sorry you did not express your concerns when the Hungarian Right had practically no say in the press in the mid-1990s. Neither did you comment on the fact that the left-wing Prime Minister ordered leaders of state organizations and companies not to subscribe to right-wing newspapers in 2009.

You claim in your statement that the „Freedom of the press is in danger in Hungary”. In reality, freedom of the press in Hungary is alive and kicking not because but in spite of your politically motivated campaigns. Every single reader can find opinions to his or her liking and worldview in this country.

To say anything to the contrary is a great offence to Hungarians – even more so as the 60th anniversary of the uprising in 1956 is going nearer.

Your sincerely,

László Csizmadia
CÖF-CÖKA president



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