Freed from arrest in Hungary, Italian activist Salis joins European Parliament

Freed from arrest in Hungary, Italian activist Salis joins European Parliament

Italian activist Ilaria Salis held her first press conference as a member of the European Parliament after her release from house arrest in Hungary.

"I intend to work hard to give a voice to those who experience social issues first-hand", Salis said on Wednesday.

"I will work on behalf of prisoners, on the issue of immigration which is a historic responsibility to be taken seriously, on the conditions of young people: a transversal area that goes from precarious employment to education."

Salis did not comment on the upcoming vote of approval of the president of the European Commission, which could take place as early as the first plenary session of the Parliament in mid-July.

"We are still evaluating, trying to find all the information to have an informed opinion," she said regarding the possible confirmation of incumbent Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The risk of revocation of immunity

Salis also responded to questions about her legal case, which is still ongoing.

After having spent more than a year in prison in Hungary on charges of attacking far-right militants in Budapest, she is currently free thanks to parliamentary immunity. Yet, she still risks up to eleven years in prison.

The Hungarian authorities could request a waiver of immunity, which would then have to be approved by the European Parliament.

"I hope and expect that Europe, the European Parliament, will stand in defence of fundamental rights, in defence of the presumption of innocence, the principle of proportionality and respect for the rule of law," Salis said.

The newly elected MEP claims she does not want to escape criminal proceedings but to receive "fair treatment before the law, in compliance with the principle of proportionality."

Meanwhile, the parliamentary delegation of Fidesz, the party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has issued a note criticising Salis' presence in the European Chamber: "Parliament cannot be a refuge for criminals."