The Forum for Civil Unity (CÖF), known for organizing so-called Peace Marches – mass rallies in support of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s policies – has announced their intention to report André Goodfriend (pictured), Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy, for allegedly “failing to disclose essential information to the Hungarian authorities about criminal activities about which he has knowledge”.
According to CÖF legal advisor Zoltán Lomniczi Jr., while the US Embassy in Budapest “constitutes the territory of the United States”, video footage shows that Goodfriend “repeatedly left the premises, entering onto Hungarian territory”. According to Lomniczi, “the moment he did this, he had an obligation to help Hungarian law enforcement investigate the corruption cases of which the US is aware with any information he might possess”, and that “failure to do so carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison”. However, Lomniczi thinks that since Mr. Goodfriend is a high-ranking foreign diplomat, “expulsion from Hungary would be quite enough”.
CÖF is reportedly chomping at the bit to hold another “Peace March” in response to anti-government protests of the past few weeks . Even though leading figures of the organization such as far-right columnist Zsolt Bayer argue that the Fidesz-KDNP government is facing an “imminent danger”, leading government officials have reportedly discouraged the idea. Last week, in response to a question as to whether CÖF should organize another “Peace March”, Orbán quipped “there is peace, so don’t march”.
(We don’t think anybody takes CÖF’s lawyer seriously. However, the fact that CÖF would even suggest a high-ranking US diplomat be expelled from Hungary on such grounds gives one pause for thought. -ed)
Referenced in this article: