Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube was instrumental in a smear campaign against liberal NGOs ahead of Hungary’s elections in April, Politico reported Saturday, citing two sources, including a former Black Cube employee.
Soon before the election in which Prime Minister Viktor Orban won another term, a Hungarian magazine published a list of more than 200 people it said were part of a plot funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros to bring down the government. Soros loomed large in Orban’s re-election campaign, with his party’s posters urging voters to “Stop the Soros candidates!”
According to Politico’s report, Hungarian groups and individuals associated with Soros were targeted by agents who secretly recorded them.
Three weeks before the election, the recordings surfaced in reports appearing in the Jerusalem Post and in a Hungarian government-controlled newspaper, lending Orban ammunition in his battle against organizations that oppose his policies.
The report quoted two people linked to the firm, who asked to remain anonymous, as saying that they didn’t know who paid Black Cube or whether the Hungarian government played any role.
“It is Black Cube’s policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work,” Politico quoted a Black Cube spokesperson as saying. “It is important to note that Black Cube always operates in full compliance of the law in every jurisdiction in which it conducts its work, following legal advice from the world’s leading law firms.”
The report about Black Cube’s alleged activities in Hungary came weeks before Orban was set to visit Israel.
In May, allegations arose claiming that Black Cube was hired last year to spy to on former aides in the Obama administration. Black Cube also came under scrutiny last year when it was revealed that the firm was among several hired by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who sought to discredit women accusing him of sexual assault and harassment – for which he was indicted in May. Black Cube later apologized for that operation.