Official: Goodfriend keeps immunity, Vida case closed

Issues

The United States will not withdraw the diplomatic immunity of U.S. Chargé D'affaires André Goodfriend, Levente Magyar, state secretary of the Foreign Ministry, told journalists today. As a result, tax office chief Ildikó Vida's lawsuilt against Goodfriend will not take place, Magyar said.

Magyar said the Hungarian government had received a reply from the United States to its request for suspension of Goodfriend's immunity today. Magyar added that the Hungarian government now regards the case closed, in a legal sense. 

The apparent resolution of the highly politicized case, which was threatening to worsen diplomatic relations between the United States and Hungary, came days after the arrival of new American Ambassador Colleen Bell.

The public prosecutor in December had asked Hungary's Foreign Ministry to take the necessary steps toward lifting the diplomatic immunity of Goodfriend while he is being investigated in connection with a complaint by tax office chief Vida.

According to MTI, prosecution investigators began in December to examine the basis for a complaint made by the tax chief against Goodfriend, and the process reached a point where the diplomat needed to be investigated, but he was defended by his diplomatic immunity.

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

Vida was preparing to sue Goodfriend on charges he libelled her when speaking about corruption in Hungary, but it now seems that suit will not take place.

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