A Healdsburg shop owner says he was characterized incorrectly as the "owner" of a far-right Hungarian website, but that he did register the site in his name in the United States as a favor to friends in Hungary.
The politics.hu site quoted as its source a Hungarian whistleblower website, atlatszo.hu, which published its story on Tuesday.
"I am not the owner," said Varga, 49, on Friday. He said his main involvement was that he registered the site kuruc.info in his name in 2008, and also opened a bank account for the website.
Varga said he did the U.S. registration and bank account as a favor to friends in Hungary who were unable to do so in their own country.
"I helped them out in 2008, when the government closed them down and they couldn't open a bank account," said Varga, who has lived in the U.S. since 1988
Varga said that although he maintains contact with the Hungarian website operators on a regular basis, that he did not control the content on kuruc.info and was not involved in posting stories on the site.
He declined to give the names of the operators, saying that he was "protecting their safety."
Varga said the kuruc.info website was unpopular with and considered "far-right" by the Hungarian authorities, which he described as a "Communist liberal government."
He said kuruc.info focused on criticism about various groups -- including "Jews, gypsies and Hungarians" -- whom the writers believed were perpetrating various misdeeds.
He said some of the 20 or so kuruc.info writers "leaned toward Nazism" but that "others were more moderate."
"It is a no-holds-barred website," said Varga, who said he valued freedom of expression.
"In a healthy society, we have to tolerate differences," he said. "As long as the grievances are expressed in a peaceful manner."
According to the politics.hu article, the Hungarian Prime Minister earlier this year asked U.S. congressional leaders to "assist in terminating the anti-Semitic provocations in Hungary supported from the United States."
It was not immediately clear from the article if there had been any response to the Prime Minister's request.
Varga said he came to the U.S. in 1988, picking Healdsburg as home because he wanted to establish himself as a winemaker.
He said he worked as a winemaker for 20 years, and still maintains numerous wine-related websites, he said. Varga and his wife Judy established The Red Paprika in 2008.
Vargo said he is also a jazz pianist who has played with jazz greats Pat Metheny and Chick Corea. He said he currently plays with a local Sonoma County-based jazz group.