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Refugee crisis: Hungarian camerawoman apologizes for kicking, tripping migrants

A Hungarian camerawoman caught on video kicking and tripping migrants near the Serbian border has offered a qualified apology for her behaviour.

Media outlet that used employ camerawoman says hackers have taken down its website

A migrant carrying a child falls after being tripped by TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo while trying to escape from a collection point in Roszke, Hungary, on Aug. 28. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

A Hungarian camerawoman caught on video kicking and tripping migrants near the Serbian border has offered a qualified apology for her behaviour.

Petra Laszlo said in the letter published Friday in the daily Magyar Nemzet newspaper that she was "sincerely sorry for what happened," but she also sought to defend her actions.

The 40-year-old was fired by the right-wing N1TV online channel after footage of her kicking and tripping migrants Tuesday near the village of Roszke went viral on social media. Laszlo was seen sticking out her leg to trip a running man carrying a young boy, sending both crashing to the ground as the man fell on the boy. She also was seen delivering sideways kicks to the knees of a young man and a pony-tailed girl as they ran past her.

But in her letter, Laszlo sought to describe her kicks and stuck-out leg as a reasonable response to a chaotic situation. She was filming people running away from a field that police use to put newly arrived migrants on buses for asylum registration centres.

"I was scared as they streamed toward me, and then something snapped inside me," she wrote. "With the camera in my hands, I didn't see who was coming toward me. I just thought they were on the attack and I had to defend myself. It's hard to make good decisions when one is panicking."

She criticized those who condemned her on social media sites and said she had received death threats.

"I am not a heartless, child-kicking, racist camera operator. I do not deserve the political witch hunt that has been launched against me, nor do I deserve the abusive threats that often call for my death. I am just a woman, who has recently become an unemployed mother," she wrote.

Police questioned Laszlo on suspicion of disorderly conduct Thursday, released her without charge, and say the investigation is continuing. Her former employer, N1TV, regularly carries reports supportive to Jobbik, an ultranationalist party that calls for all foreigners to be deported.

Station knocked offline

Meanwhile, N1TV said Friday that hackers had knocked it offline.

Reuters reported that the station said in a Facebook post that hackers from a Turkish internet address had wiped its entire site, including the station's archive and correspondence.

"The Tunisian Islamist hacker group Fallaga Team has claimed responsibility for the attack," Szabolcs Kisberk, the station's editor-in-chief, said in the post.

Reuters said it could not confirm the station's claim.

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