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Hungary's Biggest Newspaper Shut Down Unexpectedly

The Nepszabadsag newspaper has frequently been critical of the center-right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban (pictured).

The owner of Hungary's biggest opposition newspaper says it has suspended publication in a move that is sure to highlight concerns about democratic and free-speech backtracking in the EU-member country of 10 million people.

But the daily Nepszabadsag's Austrian-backed owners, Mediaworks, said on October 8 that the shuttering was a business decision taken to allow for "the formulation and realization of a new concept."

The opposition Socialists nevertheless called it a "black day for the press" and urged protesters to gather outside the paper's offices later in the day.

Nepszabadsag has frequently been critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's center-right government, which European leaders have also chided for perceived attacks on free media and increasingly assertive antimigrant policies emanating from Budapest.

A "senior Nepszabadsag editor" told the AFP news agency that journalists preparing stories for the October 10 edition were suddenly blocked from going to work and given letters of suspension.

Based on reporting by AFP