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Hungary's Orban Becomes First EU Leader To Join 'Enemies Of Press Freedom' List

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves an EU summit in Brussels on June 25.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves an EU summit in Brussels on June 25.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has added Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to its annual list of "enemies of press freedom."

It's the first time a head of government from the European Union appears on the list, along with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, among others.

The media watchdog said on July 5 that Orban and his Fidesz party "have brought Hungary's media landscape under their control step by step" since they came to power in 2010.

"The public broadcasters have been centralized in the state media holding MTVA, which also includes Hungary's only news agency MTI," the RSF said in a statement.

The group said that Orban targeted media outlets with "predatory methods," which include "political-economic scams, discrediting, self-censorship."

RSF noted that the regional press in Hungary 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," RSF said.

Hungary is ranked at 92 of 180 countries in this year's RSF World Press Freedom Index.

The RSF list of "enemies of press freedom" comprises 37 heads of state and government who ruthlessly suppress press freedom.

It includes Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus, Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov, and Central Asian leaders Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan and Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan.

Based on reporting by dpa and DW