For the first time, the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has listed a head of government from the European Union in its regular list of “enemies of press freedom”: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“Since Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party came to power in 2010, they have brought Hungary’s media landscape under their control step by step,” the journalists’ association said in Berlin on Monday.
“The public broadcasters have been centralized in the state media holding MTVA, which also includes Hungary’s only news agency MTI,” RSF wrote in a statement.
“The regional press has been fully owned by entrepreneurs friendly to Orban since the summer of 2017.
In the autumn of 2018, almost 500 pro-government media companies were merged into a holding company to centrally coordinate their coverage.”
The list of “enemies of press freedom” comprises 37 heads of state and government who embody the ruthless suppression of press freedom in a particularly drastic way.
In addition to Orban, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who repeatedly incites against the media, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are also newly listed. The RSF accuses the latter of crimes against humanity for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, among other things.
Hong Kong’s head of government Carrie Lam is also new on the organization’s list: “In the Chinese Special Administrative Region, a symbol of press freedom, the Apple Daily newspaper, had to cease operations in June.”
The list includes many long-standing “enemies of press freedom,” such as Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki, China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping, Syria’s strongman President Bashar al-Assad and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
“New names have been added in all regions of the world. Their methods of repression are different, but serve the same purpose: to prevent critical reporting at all costs,” said RSF Executive Director Christian Mihr.
“The journalists who courageously continue their research suffer, but so does the population, which is denied access to independent information that is so important in times of a global pandemic. It is also frightening that those responsible often go unpunished despite brutal crimes.”
RSF has published the list at irregular intervals since 2001.