Budapest (AFP) - Hungary's leading press association has condemned a website close to the government for publishing a blacklist of journalists whom it calls "mouthpieces" for George Soros, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's bete noire.
The article, titled "Soros's foreign propagandists" appeared Tuesday on 888.hu, run by a close Orban ally.
It named eight journalists, mostly Hungarians, who work for foreign news organisations.
The list included correspondents from the Reuters and Bloomberg news agencies, Politico magazine and German television channel ZDF, all accused by 888.hu of portraying Hungary and Orban in a negative light.
It also said international media coverage of Hungary in general is "biased, stigmatising, prejudiced, and propagandistic".
The 3,500-member National Association of Hungarian Journalists (MUOSZ), Hungary's oldest media industry body, said in a statement Wednesday that it "condemns the listing of journalists".
MUOSZ said 888.hu provided no proof of any contact between the named journalists and Soros, the Hungarian-born US financier and philanthropist, and likened the list to the dark days of communism before 1989.
"Stigmatising colleagues by using listing methods that hark back to former anti-democratic times is far from the practise of democratic journalism and informing (the public)," said MUOSZ.
Over the last two years Soros, 87, has been called a "national security risk" and a "public enemy" by Orban over his alleged support for what the premier calls the dangerous mass immigration of Muslims into Europe.
Budapest has also made life harder for civil society groups funded by Soros and for the highly respected Central European University in Budapest, set up by the billionaire to help the region's transition to democracy.
Since the right-wing Orban came to power in 2010, critics say that public television and radio channels and many commercial outlets have been transformed into pro-government propaganda organs.
In a recent speech Orban warned that "media operated by (Soros)" was an "external force" to be fought against in the run-up to the next parliamentary election due in early 2018.
In its statement MUOSZ also criticised the government for "negatively discriminating" against reporters not working for pro-government outlets, and Orban for only ever answering pre-agreed questions from friendly media in "choreographed" interviews.
Such "unlawful" factors "make it difficult in effect for journalists to perform their duties as set out in the constitution," it said.
In an article Thursday, 888.hu called the MUOSZ "a crypto-communist" body that "has no problem with someone serving the interests of Soros behind a mask of independence".