Hungary: Largest opposition daily shut down indefinitely


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10 October 2016 –The indefinite closure of Hungary’s largest left-wing political newspaper is a disturbing development for the state of press freedom in the country, PEN International said today.

Népszabadság was shut down on Saturday by its owners, Mediaworks, because of “considerable” financial losses. Journalists at the newspaper said they hadn’t been given advance notice, many of whom only learned of the closure when they were denied entry to its newsroom in Budapest on Saturday, and described the suspension of the paper’s print and online editions as a “coup.”

“The Népszabadság newsroom found out at the same time as the public that the newspaper had been shut down effective immediately,” journalists wrote on the paper’s Facebook page. “Our first thought is that it’s a coup. We’ll be in touch soon.”

PEN International is deeply concerned by the abrupt closure of Népszabadsá. At a time of uncertainty, it is more important than ever that the public are able to hear and have access to different points of view in order to make informed decisions. We hope that the situation around the closure of Népszabadsá is fully clarified immediately. ’ – Jennifer Clement, PEN International president.

The closure comes days after the paper disclosed corruption allegations against a minister in Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party and a personal scandal embroiling the governor of the national bank of Hungary.

Népszabadság had also criticised last Sunday’s referendum aimed at demonstrating public opposition to the European Union’s refugee quotas, which overwhelmingly came out in favour of Orbán’s position but on too low a turnout to be valid.

Following the news of the closure, thousands of people attended a rally outside parliament in the capital of Budapest, in support freedom of the press and the Népszabadság paper.