Az Ungváry and Irodalom Kft. v. Hungary (Application no. 64520/10, 3 December 2013) ügyben egy hét bíróból álló tanács ítélkezett.
Ungváry Krisztián történész a lehető legszűkebben, 4:3 arányban nyert a magyar állammal szemben. Az Egidijus Küris bíró által jegyzett különvéleményhez a tanács elnöke Guido Raimondi és Peer Lorenzen bírók csatlakoztak. A magyar államot elmarasztaló ítéletet Işıl Karakaş, Sajó András, Nebojša Vučinić és Helen Keller szavazatával hozták meg.
Az Élet és Irodalmat kiadó Irodalom Kft. ennél jóval simábban, 7:0 arányban lett pernyertes.
A történész a strasbourgi bírósághoz benyújtott keresetében 10.739 euró vagyoni, 6000 euró nem vagyoni kártérítést, valamint a magyarországi eljárásban felmerült költségeinek a megtérítését kérte. (§ 78.)
A bíróság ezzel szemben pusztán 7000 euró vagyoni kártérítést ítélt meg, pont annyit, amennyit Ungvárynak kellett kifizetnie dr. Kiss Lászlónak a magyarországi eljárásban (§§ 20, 80.). A többségi vélemény teljes egészében elutasította a nem vagyoni kártérítésre vonatkozó kérelmet, és kiemelte, hogy a magyar állam jogsértésének megállapítása önmagában megfelelő jóvátétel (§ 81.). A történésznek a strasbourgi eljárás során keletkezett 1800 eurós ügyvédi és egyéb költségeit a magyar állam fizeti.
Az Élet és Irodalom kiadójának kereseti kérelmében foglaltakat minden tekintetben elfogadta bíróság. Így a magyar államnak meg kell térítenie a kiadónak a magyar eljárásban felmerült összes kiadását, valamint ezen felül a bíróság megítélt 3000 euró nem vagyoni kártérítést, és 1800 euró ügyvédi költséget is.
Részletek az ítéletből:
„7. On 18 May 2007 Élet és Irodalom published a study (entitled The Genesis of a Procedure – Dialógus in Pécs) written by Mr Ungvary. The article dealt with the actions of the security service against a spontaneous student peace movement (“Dialógus”) active in Pécs and elsewhere in the country in the 1980s. The author stated inter alia that:
“... the Dialógus-affair had demonstrated ... how closely the Ministry of the Interior and the ‘social organisations’ – which had taken over some State-security functions covertly, in case of necessity – had been intertwined”.
(„A Dialógus-békecsoport elleni eljárások egyfajta állatorvosi lóként is mutatják az állambiztonság változatos bürokratikus és nagyrészt még a pártállamban is jogi alapot nélkülöző zaklató intézkedéseinek alkalmazását, valamint az BM és más, szükség esetén rejtetten belügyi funkciót átvevő "társadalmi szervezetek" szoros összefonódását”. A magyar nyelvű forrásokat innen idézem)
8. The lead of the article pointed out that the recent scandals exposing former agents acting for the party-State’s security system covered up the fact that most reporting for that system had been done through accidental, social or official contacts (as had been the case with a Mr K., a judge of the Constitutional Court at the material time, elected by Parliament), rather than by actual agents.
The lead contained the following passage:
“From the perspective of informing (besúgás) and repression (megtorlás), Officer J. W. ... and the nine “official contacts” (hivatalos kapcsolat) proved to be a lot more important ... [in the Dialógus-affair], [these official contacts including] Mr K. (today judge of the Constitutional Court)... Their respective responsibilities are of course different.”
„A besúgások és a megtorlás szempontjából sokkal fontosabbnak bizonyult Walz János AC-39-es szt-tiszt, valamint a kilenc "hivatalos kapcsolat". Petrétei József politikai munkatárs, "Polgárdi" alkalmi operatív kapcsolat (feltehetően a JPTE egyik tanára), Gáspár János egyetemi párttitkár, dr. Kiss László (ma alkotmánybíró), a jogi kar párttitkára, valamint Gelencsér Imre (1983 áprilisáig) és Kovács Lajos (1983 áprilisától) a jogi kar, Gyurcsány Ferenc, a tanárképző kar, Molnár László, az egyetem és B. M. (nevét sajnos nem sikerült feloldanom), a Pollack Mihály Műszaki Főiskola KISZ-titkárai. Felelősségük természetesen nekik is különböző”.
The author argued that Mr K., without being an actual agent,
“... was in regular and apparently collegial (kollégiális) contact with the State security, quite often anticipating and exceeding its expectations” ... “and as an official contact, he was busy as an informant (besúgó) and demanding hard-line policies”.
„Elsősorban Molnár László és dr. Kiss László állt rendszeres és minden jel szerint kollegiális kapcsolatban az állambiztonsággal, sok esetben elébe menve elvárásainak. Érdekes módon a tanárképző kar párttitkára, Vonyó József egyetlen alkalommal sem bukkan elő az iratokban: ez arra utal, hogy aki nem akart, az párttitkárként is ki tudott maradni az állambiztonsággal való összefonódásból”.
9. In the article, Mr Ungváry relied, inter alia, on documents available in the Historical Archives of the State Security Service archived as a “strictly confidential action plan”. Referring to the above material, he described the role played by leaders of Pécs University – including Mr K., deputy secretary of the local party committee between 1983 and 1988 – in assisting the security operations.
Mr Ungváry characterised Mr K.’s attitude in the Dialógus case as that of a “hardliner”, in comparison to other “social contacts”. He recalled that Mr K. had ordered the removal of Dialógus’s poster, saying that “the country did not need such an ... organisation [i.e. Dialógus]”, and that he had reproached a candidate in the Communist youth organisation’s elections for having been supported by Dialógus.
„Ennél súlyosabban viselkedett dr. Kiss László, aki 1983. március 24-én utasította Gelencsér Imre jogi kari KISZ-titkárt arra, hogy azonnal szedje le a Dialógus-plakátokat, mert "az országnak nincsen szüksége egy ilyen "semleges" szervezetre, ezért ne is reklámozzák azt". Gelencsér hiába jegyezte meg, hogy ezzel csak nagyobb feltűnést kelt, az utasítást végre kellett hajtania”.
ii. Application of those principles to the present case
49. The Court notes that the study contained mostly a factual description of the events from the foundation of the Dialógus movement until its dissolution in late 1983. It also included a detailed account of specific actions of certain individuals. As regards Mr K., the article stated that he had ordered the removal of the movement’s poster from the university’s bulletin board, had prepared reports as a party member, and had reproached a candidate in the Communist youth organisation’s elections for having been supported by Dialógus. As it appears from the circumstances of the case, these activities were not in dispute in the domestic proceedings.
50. The courts criticised the applicants for having advanced remarks that in the “Dialógus-case” Mr K. had acted as “an official contact” of the secret services, collaborated with them as a quasi-agent, even exceeding what had been expected from such “official contacts”, and had been a hardliner in comparison with other officials. The domestic courts found that these statements were allegations of fact susceptible to proof. The applicants never endeavoured to provide any justification for these allegations, and their truthfulness has never been proved. The applicants argued throughout the proceedings that the disseminated statements did not constitute statements of facts, but were value judgments and conclusions of a historian with sufficient factual background.
59. The Supreme Court concluded that the impugned defamatory statement, in the absence of a factual ground, presented Mr K. in a false light or was false. The Court finds that although the first applicant did not prove that Mr K. and his reports had actually been commissioned by the State security, it was nevertheless an undisputed fact that he, as a party secretary, had produced reports on the Dialógus affair.
The Court finds that, on careful scrutiny, the broader connotation of “cooperation” should have also been considered; and in regard to that broader connotation, the restrictive interpretation of the impugned terms of the article by the Supreme Court pre-empted the consideration of other facts which were relevant to these terms and also the possibility to consider them as opinion (see paragraphs 53 and 58 above) with sufficient factual basis.
60. In view of the principal thesis of the article (see paragraphs 7 and 19 above) it is plausible that the expressions “reporting”, acting as “informant”, or “collegial contact” do not refer to those activities being actually commissioned by the State security. The Supreme Court understood these activities as belonging to his responsibilities within the Party, without considering the relation thereof to the goals of the State security.
The Court finds such a selective interpretation of the impugned statements, with the resultant burden of proof incumbent on the first applicant, hardly compatible with the demands of the most careful scrutiny applicable in the present case.
62. As to the criterion of contribution to a debate of general interest, the Court notes that the statements held against the first applicant concerned the recent history of Hungary and aimed at shedding new light on the functioning of the secret service and, in particular, its reliance on public and party officials. The publication was based on research done by Mr Ungváry, a known historian, who, as specified in the introduction to the article, relied on material available in the Historical Archives of the State Security.
63. Against this background, the Court observes that various issues related to the Communist regime still appear to be open to on-going debate between researchers, in the general public as well as in Parliament (see paragraphs 19 and 24 above), and as such should be a matter of general interest in contemporary Hungarian society. It considers that it is an integral part of freedom of expression to seek historical truth and it is not its role to arbitrate on the underlying historical issues, which are part of a continuing debate between historians that shapes opinion as to the events which took place and their interpretation (see Chauvy and Others, cited above, § 69). It therefore concludes that this publication deserves the high level of protection guaranteed to political discourse – and the press, in view of its functions. However, these considerations are absent in the Supreme Court judgment (see also paragraph 60 above).
68. Lastly, concerning the severity of the sanction imposed, it is true that the applicant was subjected to civil-law, rather than criminal, sanctions. However, he was ordered to pay a considerable amount of money in damages and legal costs (see Koprivica v. Montenegro, no. 41158/09, § 73, 22 November 2011). Moreover, the Court considers that the measure applied, in a matter which affects Mr Ungváry’s professional credibility as a historian, is capable of producing a chilling effect. In this connection, the Court emphasises that a rectification of the statement of facts had already been ordered by a national court; and the subsequent sanctions were not strictly necessary to provide an adequate remedy to Mr K. – who otherwise failed to claim in a proper form (see paragraph 20 above) a publication to give satisfaction at the expense of the perpetrator.
Részlet Egidijus Küris bíró különvéleményéből:
10. The conduct of anyone who, under totalitarian rule, chose to behave in a loyalist manner must be judged not only from today’s perspective but also in the light of the reality of the situation at the material time, including prevalent patterns of behaviour in a comparable situation in that society, the behavioural options (if any) open to that person in that situation, the realistic consequences of alternative conduct and the assessment thereof by the person concerned. In the eyes of the law most of this is irrelevant. Whether every single loyalist to such a regime or anyone who informed its agents of any activities the regime discouraged, or anyone who carried out a request or order of its secret service, can be categorised as (and, where this is done publicly, accused of being) “an official contact”, “an informant”, or “a quasi-agent” of that regime’s secret service is a matter of political opinion, a moral judgment, an academic topic, and not a question to be decided in court. What is legally relevant is that, if a dispute arises regarding such public categorisation, which is tantamount to condemnation in the eyes of the public at large, whoever disseminated the accusation must be able to prove its accuracy, to prove that it is based on facts which have been interpreted without prejudice.
11. I share the majority’s view that a historian’s freedom to formulate judgments of this kind (provided they are based on facts) is protected by Article 10 of the Convention. Yet I disagree with the assessment that the Supreme Court, when finding against Mr Ungváry, overstepped the line drawn by the provisions of that Article. […]Public opinion condemns those persons who cooperated with the State security, even if they do not fall within the actual category of ‘agent’ or ‘informant’. Therefore, if someone is characterised, without a proper ground, as actually having carried out such activities, this violates that person’s reputation, according to public opinion.” Mr Ungváry offered no proof of his characterisation of Mr K., even at the national courts’insistence. The Supreme Court also took into consideration the fact that, in the television interview, Mr Ungváry called Mr K. (who by then had already denied the allegations) “trash”, obviously not a scholarly term but an open insult, and apologised for having done so only in the course of the ensuing criminal proceedings.
17. Because Mr Ungváry was unable to prove the veracity of his assessment of Mr K.’s conduct, his assessment cannot be considered legally defensible. The Supreme Court did not grant it legal protection, and I support this view because there was no evidence that such arbitrary categorisation of Mr K. contributed to any progressive development in a democratic society. Now the Court has found in favour of Mr Ungváry, thereby lending his statements at least some legal credence, notwithstanding the failure of their author to substantiate them. Such a finding cannot but encourage the publication, as opinions, of abusive statements wittingly expressed in polysemous terms, even if the authors cannot prove their veracity, when in fact the reader perceives them as statements of fact not distorted by prejudice. Thus, this finding may have an undesirable cascade effect.