Foreign Policy Digital

How an Internet Impostor Exposed the Underbelly of the Czech Media

When politicians own the press, trolls have the last laugh.

Tatiana Horakova has an impressive résumé: As head of a Czech medical nonprofit that sends doctors to conflict zones, she negotiated the release of five Bulgarian nurses held by Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, traveled to Colombia with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to secure a hostage’s freedom from FARC guerrillas, and turned down three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Not bad for someone who might not even exist.

Horakova has never been photographed. She does not appear to have a medical license. Her nonprofit, which she has claimed employs 200 doctors, appears to be a sham. Her exploits, so far as anyone can tell, are entirely fabricated.

None of this has stopped the press from taking her claims at face value time and again over the course of more than a decade. When it

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