US refuses to withdraw Goodfriend’s immunity – govt official
Budapest, January 21 (MTI) – The United States will not withdraw the diplomatic immunity of Andre Goodfriend, the former US charge d’affaires in Budapest who is now the deputy chief of mission, a foreign ministry official said, briefing journalists on Wednesday.
Levente Magyar, state secretary for economic diplomatic relations, said the Hungarian government had received the US reply to its request for suspension of Goodfriend’s immunity today. The government now regards the case, in a legal sense, closed, he added.
Hungary’s public prosecutor, via the foreign ministry, had turned to America’s secretary of state with the request in connection with a lawsuit filed by the head of the tax authority, who is attempting to sue Goodfriend for defamation on the ground that she appears on a list of Hungarian officials banned by the US from entering the country because they are suspected of corruption.
He said that the possibility of suspending his immunity would have given the diplomat the chance to stand up for his public statements before the independent Hungarian justice system. He added that Goodfriend, given the refusal to suspend his immunity, cannot now give any evidence for the basis of the US entry ban.
The government, he said, had pursued every legal avenue to settle the issue.
Magyar said that all efforts would be made to ensure that the arrival of the new ambassador, Colleen Bradley Bell, smooths the way for political dialogue, restoring relations to the same level that they enjoy in the area of economic and defence cooperation.