Soros-Linked Group Accuses Hungary’s Orban of Using Spyware to Hack Journalists’ Phones
Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros has a notoriously poor relationship with the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Budapest considers Soros a national security risk, and has accused his foundations of seeking to undermine Hungary’s democratic institutions. Soros’ interference in Hungarian politics goes back to the 1980s.
The Guardian ran a story on Sunday accusing Hungarian authorities of using an advanced Israeli spyware suite known as Pegasus to illegally keep tabs on the communications of journalists, lawyers and at least one opposition figure.
According to the outlet, leaked data and forensic analysis of smartphones by ‘Pegasus Project’, a collaborative investigation operated by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories, discovered that over a dozen Hungarian opposition figures were targeted in the hack attacks.
What the report didn’t mention, however, is that that George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) is a donor to Forbidden Stories. Soros, 90, is known to have engaged in a decade-long battle with the Orban government as the latter has sought to restrict the liberal philanthropist’s activities on Hungarian territory.
The alleged hack attacks reportedly targeted at least two journalists from Direkt36, a Hungarian partner of Pegasus Project which also receives cash from OSF, as well as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and other ‘philanthropic foundations’.
Szabolcs Panyi, one of the Direkt36 reporters said to have been targeted, said a forensic investigation determined that his phone was infected by Pegasus at least 11 times, each of them taking place several days after he requested government officials to comment on stories he was working on.
According to Forbidden Stories’ analysis of leaked records, at least five Hungarian journalists, an opposition politician and ten lawyers were targeted. The phones of a photographer working for a foreign journalist and a Belgian-Canadian gender studies student was also allegedly hacked.