Hungarian government appeal for secret snooping rejected in European court

June 8, 2016

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The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has rejected an appeal by the Hungarian government in a case regarding the legality of conducting secret surveillance on Hungarian citizens, reports Index.hu.

In January, we reported that the government had lost a lawsuit in Strasbourg regarding unwarranted surveillance practices by Hungary’s security forces.

So what is this all about?

Beatrix Vissy and Máté Dániel Szabó challenged the right of Hungary’s Counter-Terror Center (TEK) to conduct secret surveillance of citizens without first obtaining a judicial warrant.  All that TEK needed in order to snoop was a thumbs-up from a government minister. This meant the security force led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s former bodyguard could conduct secret home searches, tap phones and read mail of anyone suspected of posing a security threat to Hungary.

In January, the European Court of Human Rights found this practice to be intrusive and ordered the Hungarian government to enact legislation that provides for judicial oversight in cases where secret surveillance is being performed by the security forces.

The government appealed the decision, without success.

It remains to be seen whether the government will respect the court’s decision and enact the legislation.