Gov't Submits Bill on Protecting National Sovereignty

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The government submitted a bill to lawmakers on Tuesday that would establish a Sovereignty Defense Office and introduce criminal sanctions for violating the prohibition on foreign campaign financing, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

Among the tasks of the Sovereignty Defense Office would be to prepare an annual report scrutinizing the activities of organizations that could use foreign funding to influence the outcome of elections. The office would be headed by a person recommended by the prime minister and appointed by the president for a period of six years.

The bill would allow prison sentences of up to three years for people found guilty of taking or concealing prohibited foreign campaign financing.

As the BBJ reported last week, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman said a proposal by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to target media and civic groups was potentially “very dangerous” as the leader prepares to unveil the latest crackdown on independent institutions.

“To the extent that this bill may seek to criminalize and or intimidate independent civil society and media organizations, that is very dangerous, and I hope that’s not the path that Hungary chooses to go down,” Pressman said, according to Bloomberg.

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