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Amnesty International won't comply with Hungary NGO law

Associated Press logo Associated Press 27/06/2017 By PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his speech during the closing event of Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Alliance national consultation campaign titled 'Let's stand up for Hungary!' in the Balna Budapest Cultural Center in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (Zoltan Mathe/MTI via AP) © The Associated Press Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his speech during the closing event of Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Alliance national consultation campaign titled 'Let's stand up for Hungary!' in the Balna Budapest Cultural Center in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (Zoltan Mathe/MTI via AP)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Amnesty International has joined a boycott of new, mandatory reporting rules for foreign-funded civic groups in Hungary, the group said Tuesday.

According to the government, the law that went into effect Tuesday is meant to increase transparency, but critics see it as an effort to stifle political dissent.

"Amnesty International has every intention of challenging Hungary's repressive new NGO law in the courts ... and no intention of complying with it until all these avenues have been exhausted," Amnesty International Hungary director Julia Ivan said.

Civic groups receiving more than around $26,200 a year from abroad have to register with the courts within 15 days and include in most of their online and printed publications that they are foreign-funded.

The law passed earlier this month reflects the conflict between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Hungarian-American financier George Soros, whose ideal of an "open society" is at odds with Orban's desire to turn Hungary into an "illiberal state."

Soros' Open Society Foundations support some of the non-governmental organizations affected by the law, such as the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights advocate, and corruption watchdog Transparency International.

The government sees those groups as "foreign agents" working against Hungarian interests, especially by supporting the rights of asylum-seekers. Hungary has imposed strict measures to try to keep migrants out.

Orban reiterated his criticism of Soros on Tuesday, describing the wealthy philanthropist as "a speculator operating an extensive mafia network who endangers Europe's peace and future."

The Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union say their financial situations are already "fully transparent." They have announced boycotts and legal appeals of the law.

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