'No one safe' in Hungary now, warns editor
Published 17/10/2016 | 02:30
The editor-in-chief of a leading liberal newspaper has warned "no-one and nothing" is safe in Viktor Orban's Hungary, a week after the publication was shut down amid government pressure.
"If this could be done to 'Nepszabadsag', then no-one and nothing is safe," said Andras Muranyi.
The dramatic demise of the broadsheet, which had a reputation for unearthing nefarious government activity, shocked Hungary and fuelled concerns about the health of the free media in the central European country.
Staff received a courier-delivered letter on Saturday last week stating that production was ceasing with immediate effect.
They were barred from the paper's offices, so could not collect personal items, and stopped from accessing their email accounts and any work they had in production.
"Papers airing the government's dirty linen can easily find themselves suffering a similar fate," Mr Muranyi said.
In a statement on the newspaper's website, Mediaworks, the paper's Austrian owners, cited economic problems for the closure, saying 'Nepszabadsag' had generated a "considerable net loss". The company also said it was seeking to restructure the struggling newspaper rather than killing it for good.
But Hungary has been rife with speculation that the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban brought pressure to bear on Mediaworks, which owns other Hungarian publications, to silence the dissenting voice.
Mr Muranyi said it "would be naive to believe the decision was made solely on economic grounds" and that he did not exclude the possibility the government was responsible. The Hungarian government denies involvement.