Hungary: MEP charged with spying on EU07/12/17Government
Hungarian prosecutors have charged one of the country’s Members of the European Parliament with spying for Russia.
Bela Kovacs, 57, from the nationalist Jobbik Party, has denied the charges. A Hungarian inquiry began in 2015 after the European Parliament lifted Kovacs’ immunity.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, leader of the right-wing Fidesz Party, has close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A spokesman for Fidesz said the charges were a “serious European-level affair”. However, the party has said it “welcomed” the case after it has been “dragged out for three-and-a-half years by the Fidesz state machinery”.
Kovacs has described the charges as “deliberately timed” to target the Jobbik Party ahead of the elections to be held in April 2018. But he said he was resigning from the party in order to prevent damaging it ahead of the elections.
Kovacs told Reuters: “I am very happy that we finally made it to this point and I can clear my name in court and put an end to this saga.”
Prosecutors said the charges against Kovacs included “spying” against EU institutions, using forged documentation and fiscal fraud.
If convicted, Kovacs could face between two to eight years in prison.