Hungarian paper published in homeless magazine in defiance of government after shut down

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Journalists from Hungary’s main leftist daily Nepszabadsag published their work on Thursday in Budapest’s street newspaper sold by homeless people, seeking to keep the paper alive after it was shut by its owner this month.

Journalists of the leftist newspaper Nepszabadsag, which was unexpectedly shut down on Saturday amid cries of a crackdown by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, paste a copy of the last issue onto the wall of a temporary newsroom in Budapest, Hungary, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

Owner Mediaworks suspended the 60-year-old newspaper and its employees overnight on Oct. 8, saying the publication piled up significant losses despite cost cuts.

Nepszabadsag deputy editor in chief says the business arguments do not hold up and the newspaper was closed down because of articles critical of the government. Around 2,000 people protested on Oct. 8 against its closure.

Since it was shut, the journalists have been publishing via a Facebook page, and as a one-off move, they added 12 pages to the street newspaper Fedel Nelkul (“Without Home”) on Thursday. Some 12,000 copies are distributed in Budapest, with revenue from donations going to help homeless people.

“When the owner suspended the operation of the newspaper, without any previous warnings or indication, the intellectuals around the newspaper felt it should be made obvious as soon as possible that ... they will be able to publish their thoughts even after the newspaper was strangled,” the journalists said.

Mediaworks has said the newspaper had incurred losses of more than $18 million since 2007 due to a fall in circulation.

The articles by “the homeless of an editorial room” further accuse the right-wing government of being behind the closure.

“Measuring up the circumstances ... Fidesz decided to kill Nepszabadsag,” one of the journalists wrote.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs has said press freedom is doing well in Hungary and the government “did not deal with” developments in the media market.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party has said it regards the closure as a “reasonable business decision”. A party vice chairman has said it was “high time” the paper shut.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Alison Williams