National Authority for Data Protection to declassify files of “socialist spy case” before election

February 8, 2018

György Szilvásy | Photo: Berecz

The National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) may declassify files of the espionage case of former Minister of Civilian Intelligence Services of Hungary György Szilvásy and former chief director of the National Security Office (NBH) General Lajos Galambos before the April 8 general election, reports pro-government daily Magyar Idők.

Investigative journalism portal Átlátszó requested the declassification of files of the “spy trial” from NAIH, arguing that “the public only managed to get a hold of unconfirmed and unrefuted information regarding this rather important public affair.” NAIH evaluated Átlátszó’s request but instead of sending Átláltszó an answer, the authority sent a short report to Magyar Idők.

According to the report, the declassification will be only partial as some of the files contain highly sensitive information about the capabilities of Hungarian national security agencies and even personal information about their cadres.

According to the print daily, the files that might soon be declassified only confirm what has already been known about the case. Namely, sometime in 2007 at the time of the second cabinet of Ferenc Gyurcsány, then-chief director of the National Security Office General Lajos Galambos authorized the polygraph inspection of the NBH officer corps by a supposedly Bulgarian team of professionals. Although General Galambos was warned by both the NBH interpreter and psychologist that the professionals were, in fact, Russian not Bulgarian, Galambos did not call off the operation. Even though little over a dozen officers were inspected by the Russians, they were granted access to NBH’s headquarters and installed their own devices in the building.

Galambos, Szilvásy, Galambos’s successor Sándor Laborc and a fourth defendant were indicted by the Army Chief in 2011, the year after Fidesz returned to power. Galambos was charged with espionage, Szilvásy with spying as an abettor and Laborc with complicity by an official person. Although eventually all four defendants were acquitted by the Budapest Capital Regional Court of Appeal in September 2017, the justification of the court’s ruling has not been disclosed to the public yet.

Conservative print and online daily Magyar Nemzet argues that the timing of the declassification might not be coincidental, as the decade-old “socialist spy case” could divert the public’s attention from the classified documents of the government’s giga-projects such as the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant and the recently announced USD 3.6 billion Belgrade-Budapest rail line investment.