Hungary court orders govt apology over 'misleading' Soros survey

The questionnaire was sent to millions of Hungarian households and was accompanied by poster and media campaigns

Hungary's top court ruled on Wednesday that nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government had published "misleading and falsely presented facts" about a refugee rights group in a questionnaire sent to millions of households, the group said.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee said the Supreme Court had ruled that the government had damaged its reputation over the "national consultation" questionnaire about US billionaire George Soros, the HHC said in a statement.

According to the statement, the court ordered the government to publish an apology to the HHC both the public media newswire and on the home page of the government's website, and leave it posted for 30 days.

It must also pay the HHC compensation of two million forints (6,000 euros, $6,630).

Supreme Court spokesman Krisztian Erdei confirmed the ruling in favour of HHC to AFP but did not give further details.

"The ministry acknowledges the Supreme Court's decision. Despite HHC?s denials, twisting and turning, the fact remains that it is a Soros-funded pro-migration organisation," a government statement sent to AFP said.

The 2017 "Soros Plan" questionnaire, one of a series of so-called "national consultations" since 2015 that have focused on immigration, asked citizens to agree or disagree with the government's position.

One of the questions alleged that the HHC, which has accepted funding from Soros, advocates more lenient sentences for migrants convicted of breaking the law than for Hungarian citizens.

Denying the allegations, the HHC said it had been fighting for rights equality in Hungary for decades.

Wednesday's final ruling upheld previous court judgements that the government's "opinion" was presented as facts in the questionnaire and painted the HHC in a false light.

The fiercely anti-immigration Orban has repeatedly accused Hungarian-born financier Soros, 89, of encouraging and even orchestrating migrants' journeys to Europe.

The questionnaire, which was sent to millions of households nationwide and was accompanied by poster and media campaigns, marked an escalation in Orban's battle with Soros.

The HHC welcomed the ruling, saying it would spend the money awarded on giving free legal aid.

"It would have been better for everyone if the government had not lied about us," HHC co-chair Marta Pardavi told AFP.

The questionnaire was sent to millions of Hungarian households and was accompanied by poster and media campaigns