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Jul 11, 2018

Hungarian MEP has gone on trial in Budapest accused of spying on the EU for Russia

Bela Kovács was charged with "spying against EU institutions" and "engaging in espionage in the interests of a foreign state"

A Hungarian MEP has gone on trial in Budapest accused of spying on the EU for Russia.

According to AFP, charges were filed against Bela Kovács last December, which include "spying against EU institutions" and "engaging in espionage in the interests of a foreign state". 

Reports state that although Russia is not mentioned in the charges, Kovács is a frequent visitor to Moscow and is suspected of meeting with a Russian diplomat believed to be a secret service agent.

The Hungarian politician is suspected of passing on information about energy issues, European Parliament (EP) elections, and Hungarian domestic politics to the Russians.

AFP states that before Tuesday's preliminary hearing at the Budapest Regional Court, Kovacs questioned how he could know whether people were spies or not. "It's not written on their foreheads," he said. 

If convicted, Kovács could face between two and eight years in prison.

Kovács is also accused of "fiscal fraud" and falsification of documents leading to substantial financial losses to EP institutions.

Kovács denies the allegations.