First a few words about the sources of information available to Hungarian journalists from government sources. A lot of people complain that officials often refuse to answer inquiries. Thus, the general public doesn't always get the information it is entitled to. Then there is the question of information we who live abroad are able to gather. Sándor assumes, I think wrongly, that the information we can receive is somehow filtered. It is true that representatives of the media can attend press conferences, but a blogger considered to be a journalist (yep, yours truly) can gain access to government press conferences via the internet. It's true that I can't attend the press conferences of the non-government parties, but their homepages are fairly up-to-date. One thing I do miss is the kind of personal knowledge of people's backgrounds and motives. For example, X.Y. left A.B. paper and started an internet newspaper. I would like to know whether he left his earlier job on his own volition because that might give me insight into the profile of his new venture. Or I don't have knowledge of social networks: who is a friend of whom, who used to be a friend of whom. This kind of knowledge can come only from personal contacts. But otherwise as far as news goes I don't think that people living outside of Hungary are at a disadvantage.
In fact, often the journalist living in Hungary is as much in the dark as we are. A good example is this UD Zrt. case. Although György Szilvásy, minister without porfolio in charge of the National Security Office, claims that he has proof that his predecessors, László Kövér and Ervin Demeter, are involved in running a spy network through UD Zrt. he cannot say anything more because the law doesn't allow him to. So he goes to the parliamentary committee on national security where he tells the members (minus three Fidesz and Christian Democratic delegates who have been boycotting the meetings) that he has proof but doesn't have it on him. The members, not surprisingly, demand proof. So on Thursday Szilvásy will bring the proof. Why in the world didn't Szilvásy bring it today? Dragging this whole thing out for another day or two only fuels Fidesz's accusation that Szilvásy is nothing more than "the producer of a soap opera," as Demeter described him.
I heard three participants report on the parliamentary committee meeting, and I must admit that I don't know a heck of a lot more than before. Szilvásy said that the investigation has been going on for over a year and that the investigators learned that the spy network was able to gain access to confidential state, business, and bank material. The spies targeted several government members in addition to members of parliament on both sides of the aisle–I assume MSZP, SZDSZ, and MDF. Péter Boross (MDF) said that if the National Security Office's allegations are well founded, these people (Kövér and Demeter) must disappear from political life. Szilvásy said that the investigation is now in the hands of the police and that the people under investigation are József Horváth and János Tóth, two owners of UD Zrt., and Tamás Morvai, an employee in charge of the computer network. Most likely he is the mastermind behind planting spyware on their targets' computers. The third person I heard was József Gulyás (SZDSZ), but he had nothing interesting to add.
Some of the statements on the other side were telling. Ervin Demeter, two hours before the beginning of the closed-door meeting of the parliamentary committee, announced at a press conference that the accusation against Fidesz is baseless. Demeter seems to be a bit too nervous because this is the second time that he anticipates events. He admits that he knows József Horváth and is in constant touch with him, but these telephone calls and meetings have nothing to do with anything illegal. Meanwhile János Tóth admits that Demeter wanted to find out something about "a possible private trip of Sándor Laborc to Russia." Recall that Fidesz (with some help from SZDSZ member József Gulyás) voted against the appointment of Laborc to head the National Security Office because he had studied in Moscow. Interestingly enough Fidesz had nothing against Laborc when he worked in the National Security Office between 1998 and 2002! Then his four years in Moscow didn't seem to matter.
I'm sure that releasing dribs and drabs of the story doesn't help the government's case. It would be much better to come out with the accusations swiftly and in a clean manner. Leaks are inevitable and often the information that surfaces is not reliable. False reports allow the other side to attack. As it is, the lawyer for UD Zrt., Barnabás Futó, who usually handles cases for Fidesz, has already announced that he is planning to sue newspapers and journalists for spreading false information. He singled out for mention József Debreczeni, who did write a pretty devastating opinion piece on the alleged Fidesz involvement in the spy ring. István Stumpf announced today that he is suing Ibolya Dávid. Soon enough it will be a maze of suits and most likely the alleged illegal activties of Kövér and Demeter will be forgotten. Guilty or not, they will get off the hook. This is truly frustrating.