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Hungarian journalist asked to return state award

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March 19, 2013 05:59 PM EST | AP


BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary's Minister of Human Resources has asked a journalist to return a state award he received Friday after Israel and the United States complained about disparaging remarks he had made earlier about Gypsies and Jews.

Minister Zoltan Balog has said he made a mistake by giving the Mihaly Tancsis prize to Ferenc Szaniszlo, a former foreign correspondent who now has a show on right-wing Echo TV.

In 2011, Hungary's media authorities fined the station 500,000 forints ($2,200) because of Szanilo's comments which, for example, said Gypsies – or Roma – were monkeys and social parasites.

In a letter to Szaniszlo released on his website late Tuesday, Balog asked Szaniszlo to "kindly" return the award.

The ambassadors of Israel and the United States have issued letters criticizing Balog's original decision.