Former PM Bajnai loses lawsuit against public media
Bajnai and Ficsor, the owners of the company DatAdat, brought action against the Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund (MTVA), claiming that hirado.hu had carried opinion pieces which linked the company to phishing, fake profiles and hired social media commenters, as well as a text messaging campaign that the website said had reached some 1 million people, in order to aid the leftist campaign, MTVA’s press office said in a statement on Saturday.
The binding ruling of the court said the website’s actions were lawful and within the bounds of the free expression of opinion, the statement said.
During the campaign leading up to the general election in April 2022, hirado.hu analysed publicly available data and published a series of articles containing conclusions on the possible ways the campaign may have been influenced by DatAdat, the statement said, adding that the court found that the website’s information was sufficient material on which to base its published conclusions. The ruling emphasised that the press’s right to freely criticise politicians was a key element of democracy, the statement said.
Hirado.hu also published the sources it had used for the articles with due transparency, the statement said, citing the court’s verdict.
Bajnai and Ficsor’s protests against statements that they may have helped prime ministerial candidate Peter Marki-Zay’s campaign with the use of fake profiles on social media, or that their “offshore wonder weapon” could have helped decide the leftist primary election “were made in vain”, the MTVA statement said. According to the court, “the public media website had the right to publish its well-founded opinion, and did not breach the bounds of free expression of opinion,” the statement added.
The ruling obliges Bajnai and Ficsor to pay the state and MTVA’s legal costs, the statement said.