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Hungary's 'sovereignty protection' office launches investigation into Transparency International

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Hungary's 'sovereignty protection' office launches investigation into Transparency International
News

News

Hungary's 'sovereignty protection' office launches investigation into Transparency International

2024-06-25 23:25 Last Updated At:23:31

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A Hungarian authority tasked with defending the nation's sovereignty against foreign influence has launched an investigation into the Hungarian branch of international anti-corruption organization Transparency International.

Transparency International Hungary said Tuesday it had received a six-page letter announcing the investigation from Hungary's newly formed Sovereignty Protection Office, which has been condemned by rights groups as a means to stifle dissent.

The authority requested financial and operational information and said it had initiated "a specific and comprehensive investigation” into Transparency International Hungary's activities. The group said it would comply but that it believes the office is unconstitutional.

The Sovereignty Protection Office sprung out of a law passed in December by the nationalist governing party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. It has the power to gather information on any groups or individuals that benefit from foreign funding and influence public debate, and Hungary’s secret services can assist in its investigations.

The government says the legislation was designed to prevent political parties from receiving funding from abroad for election campaigns, as it claims was done by a coalition of six opposition parties before a 2022 parliamentary election that resulted in Orbán handily winning a fourth straight term in power.

But opponents have compared it to Russia’s “foreign agent” law, and said its broad language can be used to arbitrarily target government critics including non-governmental organizations and journalists. Anyone convicted of violation can face prison terms of up to three years.

In its statement, Transparency International Hungary said it was “no accident” that it had been targeted by the Sovereignty Protection Office.

“We hereby reiterate our position that this law serves the intention of the government to intimidate citizens and civil organizations that are critical of the government, while it is disguised as allegedly protecting national sovereignty,” it said. “This is against the Constitution of Hungary, as well as the fundamental values of the European Union."

Orbán, a champion of what he calls “illiberal democracy,” has long been accused by his domestic opponents and many in the EU of undermining the country's democratic institutions and taking over large swathes of its media.

The EU has frozen over 20 billion euros ($21.5 billion) to Budapest over what it sees as its violations of the bloc's rule-of-law, corruption and democracy standards.

Late last year, independent media outlets and NGOs signed an open letter condemning the sovereignty protection law as a way to silence critics of Orbán’s right-wing government.

The European Commission, which monitors the application of legislation across the 27 EU member countries, in February launched legal action against Hungary over the legislation, saying it “violates several provisions” of the bloc’s law.

Responding to the investigation, Transparency International Hungary said it had filed a constitutional complaint with the country's Constitutional Court, arguing that the sovereignty protection legislation violates the fundamental right to legal remedy as well as to freedom of expression.

“As a non-governmental organization fighting corruption, the success of our investigative, analytical and legal work, and perhaps even our mere existence threatens the regime of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has been leading the most corrupt government in the European Union,” the group wrote.

Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban listens to Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni during their press point after their meeting at Chigi Palace government office in Rome, Monday, June 24, 2024. Orban is in Rome as part of a trip also taking in Paris and Berlin ahead of his country's duty presidency of the EU starting on July 1. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban listens to Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni during their press point after their meeting at Chigi Palace government office in Rome, Monday, June 24, 2024. Orban is in Rome as part of a trip also taking in Paris and Berlin ahead of his country's duty presidency of the EU starting on July 1. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban waits for the start of a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Monday, June 17, 2024. The 27 leaders of the European Union gather in Brussels on Monday evening to take stock of recent European election results and begin the fraught process of dividing up the bloc's top jobs, but they will be playing their usual political game with a deck of reshuffled cards. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban waits for the start of a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Monday, June 17, 2024. The 27 leaders of the European Union gather in Brussels on Monday evening to take stock of recent European election results and begin the fraught process of dividing up the bloc's top jobs, but they will be playing their usual political game with a deck of reshuffled cards. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

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Witt’s homer and Wacha’s seven scoreless innings lead Royals over White Sox, 7-1

2024-07-20 12:18 Last Updated At:12:21

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Michael Wacha pitched seven scoreless innings, Bobby Witt Jr. homered and drove in two runs and the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 7-1 on Friday night.

Witt drove Chris Flexen’s inside fastball above the left field bullpen in the first inning for his 17th homer.

“I was just trying to be on time with the heater,” Witt said. “Whenever I’m on time, I feel like good things happen.”

Royals manager Matt Quatraro liked what he saw.

“It was nice to see — a fastball on the inner part of the plate — him turn on it, get us going and get himself going,” he said.

Witt added an RBI in the third on the second of his three hits for a 2-0 lead. Since June 24, he has hit safely in 17 of 19 games, batting .403 with 12 extra-base hits.

Wacha (7-6) induced inning-ending double plays with runners at third in the first and third innings.

“Big-time double plays to get me out of those jams,” Wacha said. “It took a little bit to kind of find a groove. Just getting that command back on those pitches after the (All-Star break) layoff will be key.”

Wacha struck out seven while allowing four hits and a walk, and is 6-2 in his last 10 starts, surrendering no more than three earned runs in each.

“Overall, the results were great,” Wacha said. “I felt like I was able to make pitches when I needed to, get some strikeouts when I needed to.”

It was a tough night for White Sox hitters.

“Wacha’s very difficult to hit, especially when he’s got his changeup going,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said.

Michael Massey’s two-out, two-run single highlighted the Royals’ five-run fifth. Kansas City has won five of its last seven.

“Massey’s hit was the difference,” Quatraro said. “But just one good at-bat after another.”

Flexen (2-9) walked four and hit a batter in the fifth. He threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on four hits and five walks. In 13 starts since last winning May 8, he is 0-6.

“Obviously fell apart at the end,” Flexen said. “Kind of lost the feel there. The walks are inexcusable.”

Chicago’s Korey Lee homered in the eighth, his ninth.

Brooks Baldwin singled in his first at-bat in his major league debut, as the White Sox lost their fifth straight.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: Placed RHP Michael Soroka on the 15-day Injured List (retroactive to July 16) with a right shoulder strain.

Royals: Placed OF MJ Melendez on the 10-day Injured List (retroactive to July 15) with a left ankle sprain.

TRANSACTIONS

White Sox: signed free agent IF Nick Senzel, selected the contract of IF Brooks Baldwin, and recalled C Chuckie Robinson and RHP Steven Wilson, from Triple-A Charlotte, optioned IF Lenyn Sosa to Charlotte, and designated C Martin Maldonado and IF Danny Mendick for assignment, outrighting Mendick to Charlotte.

Royals: Recalled OF Drew Waters from Triple-A Omaha and designated RHP Nick Anderson for assignment.

UP NEXT

White Sox right-hander Jonathan Cannon (1-3, 4.41 ERA) opposes Royals right-hander Brady Singer (5-6, 3.20).

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Flexen throws during the first against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Flexen throws during the first against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox's Brooks Baldwin watches his single during the third inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox's Brooks Baldwin watches his single during the third inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox's Korey Lee hits a solo home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals won 7-1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox's Korey Lee hits a solo home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals won 7-1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. catches a fly ball for the out on Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. catches a fly ball for the out on Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox catcher Korey Lee talks to starting pitcher Chris Flexen, right, during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Chicago White Sox catcher Korey Lee talks to starting pitcher Chris Flexen, right, during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez beats the tag by Chicago White Sox catcher Korey Lee to score on a two-run single by Michael Massey during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez beats the tag by Chicago White Sox catcher Korey Lee to score on a two-run single by Michael Massey during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Michael Massey watches hit two-run single during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Michael Massey watches hit two-run single during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Hunter Renfroe is hit by a pitch thrown by Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Flexen during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Hunter Renfroe is hit by a pitch thrown by Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Flexen during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Maikel Garcia celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice bunt hit by Adam Frazier during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Maikel Garcia celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice bunt hit by Adam Frazier during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. watches his solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. watches his solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, July 19, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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