Tales of a Teenage Spy - The Life and Times of Gábor Rimner
Preface by Kester Eddy
One morning in late November, 1991, I had just finished hosting the breakfast programme on Radio Bridge, Hungary's then one and only English-language station, when the phone rang.
It was a Hungarian fellow, and his English was as fluent as it was garbled.
Ungarbled, it went something like this.
He first went on about how the Americans and other Nato countries were training Hungarian military officers and secret service personnel who, just a year previously, had been in daily contact with the KGB and GRU – the Soviet intelligence agencies.
What's more, some of these very same Soviet stooges had convicted and jailed the speaker as a spy, and as a result he was still being treated as a traitor of Hungary - while these until-very-recently comrades of the Soviets were now supposedly the best of, and loyal, mates with the American CIA.
How could such people possibly be trusted by Nato?
Well, fair point indeed.
However, I needed to cut through the confusion and nail the caller down on key points. “So you were jailed for spying. Were you, in fact, a spy?” I asked - in truth expecting more beffudlement than clarity.
To this, he responded, somewhat curiously: “Well, I wasn't going to deny what was true.”
Oh,” said I, “so you were a spy?”
“Yes,” he replied.
The caller had timed his approach well. Unknown to both of us at the time, I had just finished hosting my last show on Radio Bridge, which had been taken over by Postabank a month or two previously. The new management controversially - and without letting us, the presenters know - changed the radio to Hungarian language only the following Monday.
The self-confessed spy and myself arranged to meet that same week.