Military court acquits four accused of spying for Russia

September 9, 2016


The Kaposvár military court has acquitted four Hungarians accused of espionage, including three former government officials: retired major-general Lajos Galambos, former Brigadier General Sándor Laborc, and György Szilvásy.

The three defendants were accused of aiding and abetting the fourth defendant, the owner of a security technology company accused in spying for Russia.

Galambos and Laborc headed the National Security Authority (NBH) between 2004 and 2007 and 2007 and 2009, respectively.  Szilvásy served as Minister for State Secrets under the Socialist administration of Ferenc Gyurcsány.

Galambos and Szilvásy were convicted in 2013 by the Debrecen military court and given 34-month prison sentences. Laborc was given a 12-month sentence that was commuted to two years probation. P. László was acquitted.

The case was appealed and in June 2015 the Budapest military court invalidated the first-level decision.  Writing that the findings were baseless and that the defendants had been denied due process, it ordered a new trial.  Three years later, the military court of Kaposvár led by Attila Vadócz acquitted all the defendants.  Prosecutors have appealed the decision.

The second trial took place behind closed doors after the record of court proceedings was classified until 2040.

After the acquittal, Silvásy told that nothing the pro-government press had written about the case was true.

In 2011 pro-government print daily Magyar Nemzet and blog Pesti Srácok claimed the Hungarian secret service possessed documentary evidence proving that during the Gyurcsány government, sensitive data about counter-espionage ended up in Russian hands with the knowledge of the heads of the National Security Authority, and that Russia intended to use this information to acquire Hungary’s national oil company (MOL).  Szilvásy says the accusation that they wanted to transfer Hungary’s energy sector to Russia is ridiculous in light of what has happened since.

He said the Kaposvári court had conducted a very thorough hearing of the matter, and he did not know why prosecutors appealed the decision, although he was certain it was not due to a procedural error.  He said the other cases initiated against him by the government had all resulted in judgements in his favor.

Speaking to state news agency MTI, Szilvásy said “the truth has finally been revealed” and warned that ““this could happen to any politician on either side.” In his opinion, the actions of politicians, state leaders, and ministers should not be judged on the basis of criminal law, and political debates should not be diverted onto state authorities.

Appearing on ATV’s Straight Talk Thursday evening, Szilvásy said the difference between the the previous and the current legal procedure is that the original 2011 indictment was an attempt to use the criminal justice system to destroy the political opposition.  He said the reason court proceedings were classified until 2040 was to hide the fact that it was politically motivated, and that had the documents been released, it would have become apparent that what the pro-government media outlets had written had nothing to do with reality.

He accused prosecutors of leaking information to certain right-wing media outlets for the purpose of trying them in the court of popular opinion.