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Pro-Orban owner of Hungary's leading news website sacks editor in chief

Budapest, Hungary: The owner of Hungary's leading independent news website said on Wednesday, July 22 it had fired editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull, a month after he warned that the media outlet's independence from the government was at risk.

Longstanding concerns about Index's independence deepened after pro-government businessman Miklos Vaszily acquired significant control over the website's funding earlier this year. In a statement, Laszlo Bodolai, chief of the foundation that owns the website's publisher, Zrt., said that Dull had proven unable to control internal tensions after Vaszily's arrival and perceived attempts to influence the newsroom.

Dull said he was sacked because of notices he wrote on Index about growing attempts at external influence, and also because of the warning he issued on Index's independence gauge, a graphic it has published since 2018.

Index, by far the largest media organization critical of the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has set its independence barometer to "in danger" to signal what it calls external attempts to sway its content. 

Orban, a self-described illiberal, has led his nationalist government in numerous clashes with the European Union, which has initiated a punitive procedure over the erosion of the rule of law, including media freedoms, in Budapest

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