The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union won a freedom of information case against the Republic of Hungary. For the first time, the right to access to state-held information as part of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights has been formally recognized, as reflected in today’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg based Court declared that withholding information needed to participate in public debate on matters of public importance may violate the freedom of expression.
The Hungarian Ministry of Development and Economics is ordered to disclose data, which reveal what investments worth 200 billion Hungarian forints – nearly 800 million euros - were carried out by Swedish companies in exchange for the purchase of Gripen fighter-jets by the Hungarian Air Force. The journalist of on-line newspaper, origo.hu – with legal representation provided by the HCLU - has initiated a Freedom of Information lawsuit in December, 2007, because the Ministry has previously rejected to provide information to the journalist’s FOI request. According to the September 8th ruling of the Regional Court of Appeals, the defendant Ministry acted unlawfully.