Hungary backs down from plan to force media to hire intelligence agents

The Hungarian government has backed down from a plan which could have forced media outlets to add intelligence agents to their staffs.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Thursday that while it was "unavoidable for reasons of national security" that secret agents work, for example, at mobile phone service providers, it was a misunderstanding that the law would also apply to the media.

Janos Lazar, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, said "the national security interest does not lie in having anyone interfere in the life of a newsroom."

Hungarian media had strongly protested the issue. An amendment to the bill submitted by Interior Minister Sandor Pinter would remove content providers from the list of institutions and companies where secret agents could be employed.