Hungary: Corruption Suspects Banned from US
Six Hungarian officials have been forbidden to travel to the United States following accusations of corruption.
The government officials, whose names were not disclosed, were blocked by the US State Department under Presidential Proclamation 7750 due to “credible information” that they are involved in corruption, according to the US Embassy in Budapest. This proclamation, which went into effect in 2004, allows the State Department to declare suspected kleptocrats and their family members ineligible for entry to the US.
The embassy’s explanation was in response to reports in Hungarian media such as Napi Gazdaság that alleged the travel ban was in retaliation for investigations into American companies by Hungarian tax authorities.
“The US Government action related to Hungarian individuals is not a Hungary-specific measure, but part of an intensified US focus on combating corruption,” the embassy said in its statement.
“Unable to discuss visa matter, but look forward to working together to counter corruption,” tweeted US Chargé d'Affaires M. Andre Goodfriend.
However, Goodfriend warned that corruption was a sign of weakening democracy. “The situation, if it continues in this way, it will be impossible to work together as allies,” he said, according to The New York Times.
“There's only one thing we never accept and will never accept,” Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told USA Today. “This is when someone challenges or questions the overall democratic approach and democratic commitment of the Hungarian people.”
Szijjártó, who is currently on a diplomatic trip to the US, also said that the US is Hungary’s closest ally and any allegations of corruption would be taken seriously.