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PM: Tax chief should sue Goodfriend or get out

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Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told Parliament today that he will sack Ildikó Vida, head of the Hungarian Tax and Customs Authority (NAV), unless she files a defamation lawsuit against U.S. Charge d’Affairs André Goodfriend.

On a Socialist deputy’s query, Orbán insisted that the issue could be clearly settled in the courts "without all the nonsense of lacking evidence". The prime minister added that "unless she initiates a lawsuit immediately, I will withdraw her from her position".

Orbán also also called on the U.S. diplomat "not to hide behind his diplomatic immunity", but rather to "stand up, be a man, and take responsibility for what he has claimed".

Goodfriend earlier said that the only way to discuss Vida's entry ban is if she applies for a visa. "If an individual disputes the United States' decision to ban their entry, then they must resort to applying for a visa, and in this process, we can debate why we introduced the ban," he said. As a diplomat, Goodfriend cannot be sued according to the Treaty of Vienna.

Tensions have been growing between Hungary and the United States since mid October, when it was revealed that six Hungarians have been banned entry to the United States on suspicion of corruption. All six people are government employees or affiliated with the government, Goodfriend has said, but he has refused Hungarian government entreaties to give details, citing U.S. privacy laws. While he did not name the officials, Vida has said she is one of the people to whom Goodfriend is referring.

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