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Mar 06, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Hey, POLITICO Europe, you left out some important details – like really important details – about the Ahmed H. incident

When POLITICO Europe published that story this morning on the retrial of a man facing charges in Hungary after an attack on Hungarian border guards, the reporter and editors left a lot out of the story.

For instance, they decided not to include any photos or video of what happened on the EU’s border that day (though they’re readily available online). Why?

Because any reasonable person that sees the photos and video will come away with a much different impression of what happened. The POLITICO article describes it in genteel fashion as just “a confrontation between police and asylum-seekers on the border with Serbia in 2015.”

It was more than a “confrontation.” It was a violent mob attacking uniformed border security on the EU’s Schengen border and Ahmed H., his lawyers admit, took part in the violence. Take a look:

 

On September 16th, 2015, a large group of migrants stood at the gates of a frontier crossing on the Hungarian stretch of the EU Schengen border. They demanded to be allowed to pass, which would have been illegal under Europe’s Dublin Protocols and at odds with the Geneva Convention provisions. When the border guards rightfully refused, the group turned into what could only be described as a violent mob, attacking the border guards. (More video of the violence available here.)

In any European country, the perpetrators of such an attack would face prosecution. In Hungary, such violence in attempt to cross the border illegally may constitute an act of terrorism. Ahmed H was prosecuted as part of the “Röszke 11” for his role in the incident.

The court of first instance found Ahmed H guilty. It’s now being retried, and it’s not my place to comment on a case before the Hungarian courts. But when the press publishes such a shamefully slanted report of the incident, I’ll push back.

It’s not just the missing photos and video. The gist of the POLITICO article, which features a photo of a tearful Ahmed H., is that the Orbán Government has “exploited” the case for campaign purposes. Readers, however, may be interested in a few other details about Ahmed H and the incident that the POLITICO reporter somehow neglected to include. For example:

Ahmed H. was later arrested in Hungary with a passport that contained a Schengen visa. He also had in his possession at the time eight other passports issued to other names. That’s according to the Hungarian National Police Headquarters.

Ahmed H. has made contradictory statements about his involvement. At one point he denied throwing any rocks at the border guards. Later, after seeing a video, he acknowledged breaking rocks and then admitted to throwing rocks. The POLITICO article reports that his lawyers acknowledged “he threw a few stones during a standoff.”

Crossing the border in the way that Ahmed H and the mob were demanding – to cross and pass through – would have been illegal. Period.

Some have criticized the prosecution for charging Ahmed H with terrorism. That’s up to the courts to decide. Yes, Hungary’s laws are tough, but we’re also on the front lines of this issue as a Schengen external border state.

The brave Hungarians in uniform, charged with protecting the EU border on that September day in 2015, faced what could only be described as a violent mob. They stood their ground, and there are millions of EU citizens who can rest easier because they are keeping that border secure. The security of our citizens remains our priority.