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Mar 19, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Report: Hungarian aid group collected data on migrants illegally, says group's leader

An article published in today's Magyar Idők - the first in what the author says will be a series of reports - takes a close look at a group called Migration Aid and one of its leaders, András Siewert. It raises some troubling questions.

To his credit, George Soros has pulled off a major public relations coup. Try to find a mainstream media story that does not refer to him as a “billionaire philanthropist” and his Open Society Foundation as a “charity.” It’s for the greater good of humanity and all that, according to the vast majority of these accounts.

And woe to those who dare challenge that description. Do not dare say that there is a “Soros plan” to promote immigration to the European Union, even if he has written and published it himself. Do not dare suggest that there is a “Soros network” of NGOs funded by the Open Society Foundation and working to advance a political agenda, despite the overwhelming documentary evidence to show that his money is exploiting NGOs to promote openly, sometimes radical, political causes.

If you challenge that philanthropic, charitable image you will be dismissed, as a Washington Post reporter put it in an article published over the weekend, as one of the many “far-right ideologues, demagogic despots, tin-hat conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites” who believe such nonsense.

Except, of course, it’s not nonsense, and with mounting revelations about the political work of certain NGOs and the activists they employ and the millions of dollars of lobbying activity of the Soros network, the “charitable” version of the story is unraveling.

An article published in today’s Magyar Idők – the first in what the author says will be a series of reports – takes a close look at a group called Migration Aid and one of its leaders, András Siewert. Migration Aid, according to its website, formed in 2015 as a “grassroots” organization and was registered first in the UK as a charity. As Hungary became a hotspot transit country, the group established a Migration Aid foundation in Hungary in the latter half of 2016.

Migration Aid was among the more active NGOs at Keleti railway station in Budapest and at the southern border during the peak of the crisis in 2015. They later demonstrated in front of the Parliament building and cooperated closely with the opposition party Együtt. In 2016, together with 21 other organizations, they launched a campaign against the referendum on the migrant quota. They solicited donations, which were, according to the article, received in the Budapest headquarters of the Open Society Archives. While the group has denied receiving Soros funding, the finances and legal status remained murky in that period because they were officially registered in Hungary only in 2017.

According to what the article refers to as an inside source, conversations with one of Migration Aid’s leaders, András Siewert, offered some interesting revelations about Migration Aid. For example:

While working in the transit zone, Migration Aid built an illegal database on the migrants, illegal because the data was collected and stored without the permission of the migrants. Some would say that’s a strange way to provide humanitarian assistance.

The real objective of Soros-funded humanitarian groups, Siewert told the source, is to maximize political influence in Hungary in order to advance financial interests. “In the end, everything is about money,” Siewert said. “I’m sure about that.”

The details revealed by Migration Aid’s Siewert raise a number of questions about the group’s operation and its real objectives as well as the legality of its activities. When critics raise questions about why the Hungarian government is requiring greater transparency from NGOs, its precisely because of cases like Migration Aid.