DK demands information on reports of Israeli spy software used in Hungary

Pinter: National Security Service not involved in illegal surveillance

Since May 29, 2010, Hungary's National Security Service has not been involved in illegal surveillance, the interior minister said on Monday in response to a question by independent MP Bernadett Szel. Sandor Pinter said in his written response that this was confirmed by the results of audits carried out.

Pinter added that he was ready to answer all further questions by Szel at a meeting of parliament’s national security committee to be held behind closed doors.

Szel submitted the following question to the interior minister: “Who has purchased Israeli spy software and which interior affairs or national security organisations participated in illegal surveillance?”

Pinter said in response that Hungary was a democratic country based on the rule of law and as such, it has acted in keeping with current laws in the case of each individual. Government organisations and independent organisations regularly check the state bodies authorised to usethe instruments of covert surveillance, he added.

DK demands information on reports of Israeli spy software used in Hungary

The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) has asked the government in writing about press reports suggesting that an Israeli spy software had been used in Hungary to collect information on opposition politicians and journalists.

“We want to know whom the government had wiretapped illegally,” Agnes Vadai, DK’s deputy leader, said at a press conference on Monday.

Vadai, who is also deputy head of parliament’s defence and law enforcement committee, has proposed that the committee should hear Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Justice Minister Judit Varga, as well as Sandor Pinter, the interior minister.

Vadai said that the software, developed to monitor the activities of criminals and terrorists, was only available to governments upon approval by the Israeli defence ministry. “It follows that the Hungarian government has used state agencies for illegal surveillance,” she said.

Ruling Fidesz’s parliamentary group said in a statement that convening a committee hearing was “not justified” because Hungary’s national security agencies “fully abide by the law”.

Janos Halasz, the deputy head of the national security committee, delegated by Fidesz, said that “the reports published in the leftist press are unfounded and aimed solely at stirring up political sentiments”.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a press conference on a different subject that the Information Office under his control had never used the software in question and had not entered any kind of cooperation in connection with it.

Opposition LMP national board secretary Peter Ungar told an online press conference that the spy software issue also demonstrated that the government was trying to hide things and willing to go as far as violating the law in an effort to collect information about political enemies.

Ungar said the government was either hiding something or was unaware of what’s happening in Hungary.

He slammed a statement by Fidesz MPs showing that they would not attend a national security committee hearing about the issue.

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