Dozens of journalists have walked out of Hungary’s top independent news site in protest at the removal of its editor-in-chief, as fears grow of government interference.
Index.hu is Hungary’s most-read news portal and a rare independent voice in a media landscape increasingly controlled by allies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
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On Wednesday, its editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull was fired, with management claiming he had leaked internal documents to other media.
That prompted three senior editors to resign on Friday, followed by more than 70 journalists – the overwhelming majority of the newsroom.
In a statement, they condemned Dull’s dismissal as “an overt attempt to apply pressure on Index.hu”.
Dull himself warned last month that the site was in “grave danger” from a proposed organisational overhaul.
That followed a purchase of 50 percent of Index’s advertising agency by powerful pro-Orban businessman Miklos Vaszily in March.
In recent years, most independent outlets have either gone out of business, or been bought by government allies while receiving lucrative flows of state advertising.
International observers say a lopsided media landscape and restricted access to information helped Orban win a third consecutive term as prime minister in 2018.