Report on a FOI lawsuit against the Atomic Energy Authority

The HCLU together with seven other environmental and legal defence NGOs sued the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) as it has refused to present data of public interest. The first court hearing was on 25th February 2005.

10th April 2003 a serious derangement has occured at the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, the 2nd unit of the plant was stalled and it was restarted 3rd September 2004. The eight NGOs tried to gain insight into the documentation on which the restart decision was based, but the HAEA stated that these document are not of public interest. According to the Hungarian Data Protection and Freedom of Information Act if someone’s application for data of public interest is refused the data processing organ can be sued for publishing the information.

The eight NGOs filed their petition on the 22nd September 2004. The first court hearing was today. In the Hungarian FOI law the burden of proof that the refusal was lawful and well-founded lies with the data processing organ. The HAEA states that the expertise is under the protection of intellectual property law and it is a business secret. Furthermore they claim it is data for internal use and data prepared in connection with decision making, which shall not be public within 20 years. At the first hearing the HAEA has not made a motion for proving their statements.

The next court hearing will be on 1st of April.

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