BUDAPEST • A Hungarian camera-woman who caused global outrage after being caught on film tripping and kicking refugees as they fled police broke her silence yesterday, saying she had "panicked".
"As I watch the footage now, it's like I'm not watching myself. I honestly regret what I have done and take responsibility for it," wrote Ms Petra Laszlo in a letter to Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet published on its website.
"I panicked. I'm not a heartless, child-kicking racist camera-person," she said.
In the footage, which spread rapidly across the Internet earlier this week, Ms Laszlo, 40, can be seen tripping a man sprinting with a child in his arms, and kicking a running child near the town of Roszke, close to the border with Serbia.
She was fired from her job at N1TV, an Internet-based television station with links to Hungary's far-right Jobbik party, and also faces criminal charges for breaching the peace.
She was detained for questioning by police on Thursday and later released.
"I was afraid as they were rushing towards me and then something snapped in my head.
"As I had my camera in my hand, I couldn't see who was coming at me. My only thought was that I was going to be attacked, and that I had to defend myself," she wrote.
"As a mother, I'm particularly sorry that fate had it that a child was running at me, and I wasn't able to sense that."
A Wall of Shame page on Facebook featuring photos, videos and commentaries linked to the incident had gathered more than 35,000 likes yesterday. "You are a disgrace to your profession," said one user.
Ms Laszlo said she did not "deserve either the political witch-hunt that is going on against me or the smears or the many death threats".
"I'm just a woman, now unemployed mother of small children, who made a bad decision in a panic situation."