Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid tens of thousands of dollars to national security risk Naffa

November 9, 2017

Ministry of Foreign Affairs has paid tens of thousands of dollars in rent to national security risk Naffa
Honorary consul of Jordan in Hungary Zaid Naffa (first left) and Hungarian President János Áder (centre) on the balcony of the Presidential Palace in September 2017 | Photo: amman.mfa.gov.hu

The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent USD 760,000 renting the premises of the Hungarian embassy in Amman, Jordan, from Zaid Naffa between 2003 and 2013. Naffa, the honorary consul of Jordan to Hungary, spent time with Hungarian government and state officials long after Hungarian counter-terrorism authorities identified him as a national security risk. 

Honorary consul Naffa has ties to the Hungarian political elite dating back to the early 2000s.  However, the exact nature of the relationship was not clear until now. According to index.hu, to a question posed by Politics Can Be Different (LMP) Márta Demeter to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szíjjártó, undersecretary István Íjgyártó revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has paid Naffa rent totaling USD 760,000: USD 50,000 per annum between 2003 and 2007, USD 80,000 per annum between 2008 and 2013, and a mere USD 6,700 per month since.

By a remarkable coincidence, Naffa became honorary consul in 2003, the same year the ministry first contracted him about renting the premises he owns in Amman.

Meanwhile, conservative print daily Magyar Nemzet has discovered that Naffa spent time with senior government and state officials well after the Counter-terrorism Centre (TEK) had determined that Naffa poses a national security risk. Based on an article published by the Jordanian news site Ammon News, Naffa accompanied Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén on a visit in Jordan in March 2016. Moreover, in a photo published on the website of the Hungarian embassy in Amman, Naffa can be seen together with President of Hungary János Áder during the visit of the President of the Senate of the Jordanian National Assembly in September 2017.

Zaid Naffa came into the limelight when it was revealed that he acted as liaison between the Hungarian government and the late Saudi businessman Ghaith Pharaon, who was wanted until his death by both the FBI and Interpol.

Naffa underwent national security vetting by TEK, after he and Pharaon, together with six other individuals, applied for Hungarian citizenship in 2016. Although TEK determined that Naffa poses a national security risk, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently claimed that they were not informed about TEK’s findings and that it is beyond their control whom Jordan appoints as an honorary consul.

However, Demeter argues that the ministry has the right to insist he hold no official position in Hungary. “A man who was deemed a national security risk during the citizenship application procedure must not be honorary consul in Hungary,” the LMP MP said.