How Orban Critics Were Targeted By a Fake Investor and a Pro-Trump X Account

By John Mercury March 9, 2024

Kati Marton, a Hungarian-born American writer, thought she was talking with a friend of Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO’s former commander in Europe. The man, who had sent her a résumé describing himself as a “results-oriented wealth and investment manager” living in Switzerland, said he was exploring green energy opportunities in Eastern Europe.

Ms. Marton didn’t mind when he steered the conversation to Hungary, something she knew about, having written three books about the country, including “Enemies of the People,” an account of her parents’ 1955 jailing in and subsequent flight from Budapest.

Today, more than half a year after what she thought would be a private Zoom call, Ms. Marton thinks she has figured out what was really going on: an elaborate dirty-tricks operation aimed at entrapping and smearing critics of Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban.

On Jan. 31, snippets from a surreptitiously recorded video of Ms. Marton’s conversation with the purported investor surfaced on the X social media platform, on an account called MagaBabe.

The account, which also posted secret recordings of General Clark and others hoodwinked by the operation, says it is run by a “Good Christian Girl from the South lookin for a Good Christian Man.” The recordings on MagaBabe, which mainly reposts material cheering former president Donald J. Trump, were quickly trumpeted by Mr. Orban’s media machine in Hungary.

Just hours after the video excerpts appeared, Mandiner, a news site owned by a media foundation controlled by loyalists of Mr. Orban, cited them as evidence that Ms. Marton and other people it labeled “black belt” agents of the Hungarian-born financier George Soros were conspiring to topple the Hungarian government.

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