Szijjártó: Goodfriend should drop immunity, go to court


U.S. Chargé d’Affaires André Goodfriend, could lift his immunity as a diplomat and produce evidence of corruption charges against Hungarian officials before a Hungarian court of law, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjárto said on public television today.

Despite the international agreement signed in 1961 granting diplomats immunity in their host country, Szijjártó argued that if a Hungarian diplomat "openly raised serious charges against a government official of their host country", he would "encourage them to give up their immunity and support their claim in front of the authorities of that country".

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán yesterday said he would sack Ildikó Vida, head of the Hungarian Tax and Customs Authority (NAV), unless she files a defamation lawsuit against U.S. Chargé d’Affaires André Goodfriend.

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 yesterday answered the issue in a Twitter post saying "US and Hungary have excellent legal cooperation, including a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty".

Late yesteray, Geza Fazekas, spokesman for the chief prosecutor, claimed that his authority applied for legal assistance to the U.S. in connection with the entry ban on October 27.

Goodfriend has said that the best 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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