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Our Spy And Intelligence Agencies Are Out Of Control

From Berlin to Brasilia to Washington D.C., government security operatives have turned against the people

Starting in 2016, United States government intelligence agencies, news media, and establishment leaders in both political parties warned of a vast Russian conspiracy to interfere in elections. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the Intelligence Community reported that Vladimir Putin had favored Trump and aided his election through Facebook ads, Twitter bots, and other means. The following year, Trump’s Deputy Attorney General appointed a special counsel to investigate allegations of Russian interference, a connection to the Trump campaign, and obstruction of justice.

Every major allegation proved to be wrong or profoundly misleading. According to every serious political scientist, Russia had no measurable influence in the 2016 elections. There was no flow of money from Moscow to Trump through a secret bank account. Russia favored Hillary Clinton for stability and continuity, not Trump, whom it viewed as chaotic. In 2019, the special counsel said he lacked evidence to charge Trump with either colluding with Russia or obstructing justice.

There’s no doubt that Russia is engaged in information warfare and has been long before its invasion of Ukraine. Nor is there any doubt that Russia would like to expand its influence over the West if not least to restore the flow of oil and gas to Western countries, which was cut off at the beginning of the war.

But there was extremely little evidence of Russia’s influence over either media or politics in the West before its invasion of Ukraine, and there’s even less today. Across the Western world, 80 to 90 percent of the public has an unfavorable view of Russia.

And yet, according to intelligence and security services, the news media, and establishment political leaders across the Western World, Russia is currently interfering in European elections by secretly bribing conservative politicians. Yesterday, the Washington Post repeated the claim, which has been made in European newspapers for months.

But neither the government agencies nor the news media have produced any evidence to support their accusations, and every single individual accused of taking money from the Russians has denied it.

That includes a German Member of Parliament, Petr Bystron, who represents the conservative AfD party and whom I interviewed by phone yesterday. Bystron, who is running for European Parliament, says there is no truth whatsoever to any of the accusations and that government intelligence agencies are accusing him because of his opposition to the war in Ukraine.

I am publishing Bystron’s interview with me below in its entirety. If evidence emerges that contradicts his claims, I will publish it.

However, there is a larger principle at stake here. People are innocent until proven guilty. Government officials who believe political candidates have broken the law must produce that evidence before making accusations.

To date, government officials have not offered any good reason for withholding the evidence. And the fact that they have not done so suggests they don’t have the evidence.

What’s more, this is not the first disinformation campaign we have seen. My colleagues and I have documented how a German publication called Correctiv spread misinformation about a meeting that discussed re-migrating immigrants back to their own countries, which members of AfD attended. Correctiv implied that the meeting and AfD’s position were secrets, which they weren’t. As such, Correctiv’s reporting, which was followed by Color Revolution-style protests organized by NGOs, was deliberately misleading.

In fact, as we reported, Correctiv, which is funded by the German government, George Soros, and Pierre Omidyar, likely served as a front group for German intelligence agencies and has engaged in counterpopulist disinformation campaigns, including against protesting German farmers, falsely claiming that they were far-right and held extremist views.

 What we are witnessing appears to be establishment politicians weaponizing government intelligence agencies to interfere in Europe’s elections, with the active participation of mainstream German NGOs and news media companies.

AfD has been criticized for its positions on immigration. But this is not about politics or what you think about immigration. This is about whether we want to continue to be free people living in liberal democratic societies or whether we are willing to live under tyranny where a secret government interferes in elections. While I support the right of nations to control their borders, I do not support mass re-migration of immigrants. I support neither the AfD in Germany nor Trump here in the U.S. My commitment to journalistic independence and neutrality is such that I will not vote this year.

We in the West live in liberal democracies where our constitutions require that we, the people, control the intelligence agencies, not the other way around. As such, the weaponization of government by politicians and intelligence agencies should terrify us all.

Just because you’re not the victim in this particular case, either because you’re not European or conservative, is no reason to think that what’s happening couldn’t affect you and the people you love and care about in the future. One thing we know from past descents into tyranny is that totalitarianism is reckless, sweeping, and often random. And most people are aware of how totalitarian regimes even eat their own. 

We must resist these abuses of power. That starts with further investigation. I have requested interviews with all key individuals involved in this apparent scandal, including government ministers, intelligence agencies, and the journalists spreading the accusations. My colleague Alex Gutentag and I will travel to Berlin, Prague, and other cities over the next several weeks to investigate what is happening.

Most of all, we should learn from the Russiagate hoax that started in 2016. The government intelligence agencies, news media, and establishment leaders who promoted that hoax betrayed the public’s trust, and they appear to be betraying it again. We must not let them.

Interview with German Member of Parliament Petr Bystron

Conducted by phone on June 3, 2024

Did you take money from Voice of Europe?

Never! I said this to CNN on the first day. There is nothing there.

They say there are recordings.

I want them to publish the recordings because I think it’s manipulated. One side said they had a recording of me complaining that I got the money, 30,000 euros, in Prague, and I was complaining that I don’t want 200 euro bills because I cannot spend them at a gas station. But for three years, I have been living separated from my wife, who is in Mallorca with my car, and I’m in Berlin taking the train and riding with the limo service provided by the government. I haven’t seen a gas station for three years. And a team investigated the guy allegedly distributing hundreds of thousands of euros to politicians. He was living outside of Prague in a village, not even in Prague. He had a used car he bought in Berlin from a second-hand dealer. His wife had to work in a Prague agency. He was living with his father and his wife. He was lower middle-class, not living like someone giving away hundreds of thousands in cash.

Are their accusations based on any true information?

No. It's completely faked material. Look at the list of the 20 or more people who were accused of getting money. They are all like, “What? It’s insane. Out of range.” They’re not saying, “No, I didn’t get that amount.” They’re saying, “Are you kidding me?”

If you are accused of being a Russian agent in Europe right now your life is not safe.

Who is Voice of Europe?

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