Fidesz defamed Together politician Péter Juhász on eve of municipal elections

July 29, 2016

Péter Juhász, Photo: Márton Magocsi
Péter Juhász, Photo: Márton Magocsi

“The lawsuit is under way and it’s obvious [Fidesz] will lose, so they decided to deny that they wrote the statement and will instead try to pin the blame on MTI, claiming that MTI falsely released a statement in Fidesz’s name. MTI is playing along with this because they claim not to know the source of the statement” – Péter Juhász, Facebook post.

In October 2014, just one day before Budapest’s municipal elections, Fidesz posted a story to its website claiming that Together (Együtt) politician and Budapest 5th Distict mayoral candidate Péter Juhász was caught on security cameras vandalizing Fidesz posters “obviously in an drunk or drugged state.”

Juhasz’s main opponent was Fidesz assemblyman and District 5 deputy mayor Péter Szentgyörgyvölgyi, whom Fidesz MP Antal Rogán tapped to succeed him as mayor.

Juhász later filed a defamation lawsuit against Fidesz. In an interesting twist, Fidesz’s lawyer claimed Fidesz was not the source of the statement run by Hungary’s state-owned news wire, MTI, and later picked up by several other media publications.

Juhász’s lawyers then turned to MTI to find the source of the story. In theory, anyone can submit a press release to the state-owned news wire service for a fee. MTI serves as an aggregator for all press releases and, therefore, must have a record of the source of the release.

MTI claimed that it could not find its source for the statement. All this left the burden of proof on Juhász to prove that Fidesz was behind the statement.

During the trial, which took place earlier this week, Fidesz’s lawyer claimed that she found no such statement within Fidesz’s communication, but that it is quite common for third parties to abuse Fidesz’s name and logo. (The idea being that someone used Fidesz’s logo and put out a press release.)

What’s more, Fidesz’s lawyer did not seem to see anything wrong with the statement because they considered it to be an “opinion.”

Well, Hungarian news site found the statement. The party’s lawyer apparently neglected to review her client’s own website, which features the following post citing both and MTI as the source: