Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has added Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to its list of “enemies of the free press”. Orbán is the first EU government leader on this list. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman are also on it now.
RSF argues that Orbán and his party have “incrementally brought the Hungarian media landscape under their control” since taking office in 2010. In its statement, the organization points to the public broadcasters and the Hungarian news agency MTI, which are housed in a state-owned company. In addition, all regional press companies would be run by Orbán confidants.
Bolsonaro has been added to the list because he would regularly defy the media and Bin Salman, among other things, for the murder of critical journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The crown prince is said to have ordered the assassination in 2018. In addition, Hong Kong’s top political representative, Carrie Lam, has been added following the enforced shutdown of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily last month.
The list of “enemies” includes 37 dignitaries who are said to be actively suppressing press freedom. RSF has been keeping the register since 2001. Presidents such as the Chinese Xi Jinping, the Belarusian Aleksandr Lukashenko and the Syrian Bashar al-Assad are also on the list. “Their means of suppression differ, but they all serve the purpose of avoiding critical reporting,” RSF said of the individuals on the list.
“The journalists who do courageous research suffer as well as the population. They do not have access to important information that is so important at a time of a global pandemic,” RSF said. “It is frightening that those responsible often go free.”