Guardian's Hungarian reporter kicked out of CPAC Hungary mid-interview

May 05. 2023. – 03:13 PM


Guardian's Hungarian reporter kicked out of CPAC Hungary mid-interview
Miklós Szántó, Director General of the Center for Fundamental Rights opens the event on 4 May – Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI


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Flóra Garamvölgyi, the Guardian's contributing writer reporting from Hungary, was thrown out of the CPAC Hungary conference in the middle of her interview with a former Republican senator and presidential candidate. Security officials cited "superior orders" and a "registration system error".

In his speech on Thursday, the main organiser of CPAC conferences, Matt Schlapp boasted that at last year’s conference, the Centre for Fundamental Rights (the organiser of the Hungarian franchise event) had taught him how to get rid of unwanted journalists.

Journalists had never been banned from CPAC conferences before. However, last year, the Hungarian organisers, who have considerable experience in banning journalists opened his eyes and he realized that if he was concerned that certain journalists would write negative articles about the conference, they could simply be denied accreditation.

Last year, journalists from the Guardian, Reuters, the Associated Press, Vice, Rolling Stone, Vox and the New Yorker tried unsuccessfully to gain access to the event, while the pro-government and pro-Republican press were allowed in. According to our information, the registration of several Hungarian and foreign independent news portals was refused this year as well.

Among the few who were allowed in was the Guardian’s Hungarian correspondent. Flóra Garamvölgyi, who lives in the US, told us that she was able to register for the conference and also received a confirmation.

However, several weeks later, when she was on her way to Hungary, she received an email from the organisers saying that they would not be able to admit her to the conference after all, due to lack of space. According to our information, several independent journalists also received such an email.

But as Garamvölgyi was already at the Los Angeles airport, she decided to fly to Budapest and try to get in. She said that everything went smoothly at the conference venue on Thursday. After a passport check, she was allowed to enter the event and work freely. Likewise, there was no problem with the Friday morning entry either.

However, on Friday afternoon (towards the end of the two-day conference), while she was interviewing former Republican Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, one of the organisers pulled the politician away from her mid-sentence. Garamvölgyi was then pulled aside by three security guards.

The security guards escorted her down to the registration desk, where the organisers told Garamvölgyi that they had received information “from above” that the correspondent's registration had been accepted by mistake, only because of a “system error”, and that she would have to leave the event immediately, which the Guardian journalist did.

The keynote speaker at the two-day CPAC Hungary conference was Viktor Orbán, who gave a speech on Thursday, in which he compared liberal and progressive ideologies to a lethal bioweapon developed in Brussels and George Soros's labs. The conference also featured speeches by Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Hungarian Minister of Defence, János Lázár, Minister of Construction and Mária Schmidt, Director General of the House of Terror Museum and the 21st Century Institute. The two star invitees of the conference, Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson, sent video messages instead of coming in person.

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