I finished the first part of my story on the 2006 Budapest riots with some finger pointing. I shared József Debreczeni’s strong suspicion that it was Imre Szekeres and two of his close associates in the top leadership of the Hungarian Socialist Party who were responsible for passing the audio recording of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech in Balatonőszöd to Fidesz politicians.
Some readers of Hungarian Spectrum suggested the very unlikely possibility that Gyurcsány himself leaked the recording, but there is far too much contrary evidence. We have enough information even today to allow us to more or less follow the path of the tape from MSZP headquarters to Fidesz.
Let’s start with what transpired a few hours before the release of the recording on September 17, 2006. Around 2 p.m. a man arrived on a motorcycle, handed Balázs Weyer, the editor-in-chief of Origo, an envelope, and quickly disappeared. Weyer later stated that he couldn’t identify the man. As we know from Attila Rajnai, an investigative journalist who published an article about the case in Élet és Irodalom (May 25, 2007), while Weyer was playing soccer in the morning people from Magyar Rádió and RTL-Klub were looking for him. Their message was that they had something that would be the big news story of the day. But Origo was late with the news. Weyer got a CD of the entire three-hour meeting in mp3 form. At first he had no idea what it was all about or where and when it was recorded. All that took time to figure out. In the meantime he tried to ascertain what passages were worth publishing. And before publishing the material, he phoned Emese Danks, the Gyurcsány government’s spokeswoman at the time, asking about the authenticity and the details of the recording. She confirmed that they knew about the leak but for the time being they didn’t want to make any statement.
So, yes, Gyurcsány’s office knew about the CD, but I suspect that they found out about it only a few hours before the actual broadcast of the incriminating passages. Although József Debreczeni doesn’t mention it in his book, A 2006-os ősz, I distinctly remember reading an article which described the confusion that reigned in the prime minister’s office. They had no idea what speech was in question. They didn’t remember any unusual speech. Obviously to MSZP MPs it was just one speech among many. They didn’t attach any great significance to it.
Another copy was delivered, also by a motorcyclist, to Péter Uj, the editor-in-chief of Index. Earlier he received a telephone call at home from someone who didn’t introduce himself but who used the informal form of address. The person announced that he had important information for him. Where should the messenger to be sent? Uj thought it was a joke. But about an hour later, at four o’clock in the afternoon, the messenger arrived and handed him a package. At that very moment György Such, the president of Magyar Rádió, phoned him and told him to turn the radio on. To this day we have no idea who these messengers were. Certainly not employees of a professional messenger service. Attila Rajnai, the journalist, checked that aspect of the story thoroughly and came up empty handed.
However, later investigations revealed that prior to September 17 some of the incriminating parts of Gyurcsány’s speech had already been circulating among right-leaning information specialists. E-mails went back and forth between eastern Hungary and Budapest. Someone also sent this material to a Hungarian, György T., working in Mexico at the time, on either September 12 or 13. He forwarded it to at least twenty of his friends. Subsequently György T. returned to Hungary and told Rajnai that he had indeed sent the information on to others, but he refused to reveal the exact source of the message. He did, however, indicate that the man from whom he got the material was also sympathetic to right-wing politics.
In Fidesz circles the word was that “our friends in Debrecen were the first ones who learned about [the speech’s contents].” Rajnai talked to some information technologists in Debrecen who worked for the City Hall of Debrecen, but they refused to answer his questions. So, the investigative journalist lost the thread in Debrecen.
It seems that the Office of National Security, which was entrusted with investigating the case, got a bit farther. Debreczeni quotes from Ferenc Gyurcsány’s letter to Attila Mesterházy that outlined his suspicions about the three leading MSZP politicians who might have been responsible for the leak. “The Office of National Security questioned many people and performed many technical investigations…. A few things surfaced. For example, that the material got to Budapest from the Office of the Mayor of a Fidesz-led city on the Great Plains.” We are talking here about Debrecen and Lajos Kósa. That this was indeed the case is reinforced by our knowledge that the telephone calls announcing the arrival of the CDs came from Debrecen.
Debreczeni’s theory is that the approximate content and perhaps even the most damaging details of the speech were known to the Fidesz leadership already prior to July 22 when Viktor Orbán made his speech in Tusnádfürdő, Romania. He called on the Hungarians to gather on Heroes’ Square on September 23 to fight “against the lies of the dictatorship.” It was a proclamation entitled “Good morning, Hungary!” However, Debreczeni continues, the complete audio recording arrived in Debrecen’s City Hall only later.
To the best of our knowledge the intermediary in that transaction was Eduardo Rózsa-Flores! Familiar name? You may recall that in April 2009 he, a Bolivian by birth but a Hungarian citizen, tried to assassinate the Bolivian president. Soon after his arrival in the country he was killed by Bolivian commandos. I wrote about him twice: “The Hungarian far-right in Bolivia–Eduardo Rózsa-Flores,” and again a day later in a post entitled “The psyche of an ‘anarchist’: Eduardo Rózsa-Flores.”
A close associate of Rózsa-Flores was Zoltán Brády, editor-in-chief of Kapu, a far-right publication. After Rózsa-Flores’s death Brády gave an interview to MTI in which “he admitted that they–Brády and Rózsa-Flores–were the ones who leaked the speech in Őszöd…. However, he didn’t say where they got it from and to whom they passed it on.”
We do know where the recording ended up and, thanks to an interview with Brády on MTV, we even know that the source was one of the leading members of MSZP. On April 19, 2009, Brády was interviewed by Szilvia Krizsó on A szólás szabadsága (Freedom of speech) where the following dialogue took place:
Zoltán Brády: Eduardo managed to get that piece of evidence.
Krizsó Szilvia: But how?
ZB: He received it.
KSz: But from whom?
ZB: You don’t think that I will tell you that!
KSz: Of course, I do.
ZB: OK, I will tell you as much as that it was from the MSZMP, forgive me…
KSz: You mean MSZP.
ZB: MSZP, doesn’t matter, from the leadership of MSZP.
When Debreczeni inquired from Gyurcsány whether any surveillance was conducted against Imre Szekeres, or whoever X was, the answer was a definite no. After all, it would have been against the law. However, Rózsa-Flores was naturally under surveillance and there the Office of National Security encountered the names of some parliamentary politicians. One high-level national security officer came across, for example, the names of Viktor Orbán and László Kövér while investigating Rózsa-Flores’s highly suspicious activities. The investigators even opened separate files for them with the names of “Bajusz” (mustache) and “Ovi” (abbreviation of óvoda/kindergarten). More can be read about this in the October 11, 2011 issue of Heti Válasz, a pro-Fidesz publication.
The Office of National Security even placed an undercover agent in Rózsa-Flores’s circle, but before that person managed to find out the name of the MSZP politician who passed the copy of the recording to Rózsa-Flores, he died in Bolivia and his secret with him.