Israeli defense officials have strongly protested the sale of 51% of Israeli communications satellite operator Spacecom to a Hungarian communications firm with ties to Viktor Orbán.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the country’s Ministry of Defense was surprised when an Israeli company selling satellite services to Israelis, Amos, announced in June that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with a Hungarian company called 4iG.
The paper reports that 4iG is owned by Lőrinc Mészáros (pictured), who, the paper puts it, is “a close associate of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.” However, Index points out that Mészáros is no longer an owner of the company, having been bought out by Gellért Jászai in 2020.
Israeli security authorities will have to give their approval to finalize the deal, but they are concerned about Spacecom falling into Hungarian hands as the Israeli company is seen as an important “strategic security tool.” The company provides services to Israeli government ministries and various security agencies.
This is a bizarre deal that exposes Israel’s satellite communications to unstable and undemocratic actors.
-senior security officials told the Israeli paper.
Their main concern is that the transfer of ownership of the Amos satellites will damage one of Israel’s strategic assets and could lead to the release of secret and sensitive material about Israeli citizens, government ministries, and various security agencies, as the paper writes, “into the hands of extremist elements.”
Security officials also suspect that Orbán himself is behind the purchase, Haaretz added.
Spacecom announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with 4iG on June 13 ahead of the major deal, in which the Hungarian company will buy a majority of Spacecom’s shares for $69.9 million.
However, the deal is not yet set, and the Hungarian side has hired strategist Israel Bachar to help promote it. But those familiar with the details “believe that Bachar is being asked among other things to use his connections to promote the deal to individuals who could influence decision-makers,” writes Haaretz.