BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary's prime minister says that scathing criticism of him by U.S. Sen. John McCain is part of an attack on Hungary's independence.

Viktor Orban said Friday that McCain's statements calling him a "neo-fascist dictator" and denouncing him for eroding democratic norms belonged to a series of attacks motivated by frustration with the fact that since 2010 his government no longer allows others to "fleece" Hungarians.

Orban also said that he had spoken with the head of the tax authority, one of six public officials banned from entering the United States because of suspected links to corruption. Orban said he told Ildiko Vida to sue for defamation after the U.S. Embassy charge d'affairs said in a magazine interview that they had knowledge of fraud within the tax office.