Journalist Represented by HCLU Attorney Wins Lawsuit Against the Ministry of Economy and Transportation

The court’s first instance decision favored index.hu (leading Hungarian internet news provider) journalist Zoltán Bogád and the public in the lawsuit which has become known as the Hankook-trial. The lawsuit became necessary, because the ministry denied public access to the state-subsidized contract between the State and Hankook Tire.

The importance of making public the contract on the whole is to clarify what type of subsidies and allowances the state provides the tire company.

The ministry’s arguement was that it has already made public those parts of the contract which are of public interest and that all other data is considered business secret. The court has rejected the arguement and in a verbal justification has stated that freedom of information is the fundamental rule and that exceptions have to be comprehended strictly. It has to be recognized that the legal boundaries are set and contracts have to be entered with the realization that public funds, which are of public interest are involved, and requests for access to these contracts could emerge at any time. According to the court it is not an acceptable solution to label every last letter of such contacts as business secrets.

The ministry has 15 days to appeal the decision after receiving the verdict in writing.

The HCLU, besides testing the functional fulfilment of freedom of information has taken on legal representation of the journalist, because it is the HCLU’s declared objective to lend high quality legal support to journalists and editors wishing to inspect public funds.

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