How a fake persona laid the groundwork for a Hunter Biden conspiracy deluge

A 64-page document that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump appears to be the work of a fake “intelligence firm.”


One month before a purported leak of files from Hunter Biden’s laptop, a fake “intelligence” document about him went viral on the right-wing internet, asserting an elaborate conspiracy theory involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son and business in China.

The document, a 64-page composition that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump, appears to be the work of a fake “intelligence firm” called Typhoon Investigations, according to researchers and public documents.


The author of the document, a self-identified Swiss security analyst named Martin Aspen, is a fabricated identity, according to analysis by disinformation researchers, who also concluded that Aspen’s profile picture was created with an artificial intelligence face generator. The intelligence firm that Aspen lists as his previous employer said that no one by that name had ever worked for the company and that no one by that name lives in Switzerland, according to public records and social media searches.

One of the original posters of the document, a blogger and professor named Christopher Balding, took credit for writing parts of it when asked about it and said Aspen does not exist.

Despite the document’s questionable authorship and anonymous sourcing, its claims that Hunter Biden has a problematic connection to the Communist Party of China have been used by people who oppose the Chinese government, as well as by far-right influencers, to baselessly accuse candidate Joe Biden of being beholden to the Chinese government.


The document and its spread have become part of a wider effort to smear Hunter Biden and weaken Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, which moved from the fringes of the internet to more mainstream conservative news outlets.

An unverified leak of documents — including salacious pictures from what President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and a Delaware Apple repair store owner claimed to be Hunter Biden’s hard drive — were published in the New York Post on Oct. 14. Associates close to Trump, including Giuliani and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, have promised more blockbuster leaks and secrets, which have yet to materialize.

The fake intelligence document, however, preceded the leak by months, and it helped lay the groundwork among right-wing media for what would become a failed October surprise: a viral pile-on of conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden.

Behind Typhoon

The Typhoon Investigations document was first posted in September to Intelligence Quarterly, an anonymous blog “dedicated to collecting important daily news,” according to its “about” section. Historical domain records show the blog was registered to Albert Marko, a self-described political and economic adviser, who also lists the blog on his Twitter bio. When asked about the provenance of the document, Marko said he received it from Balding.

Balding, previously an associate professor at Fulbright University Vietnam who studied the Chinese economy and financial markets, posted the document on his blog on Oct. 22, seven weeks after it was initially published.

“I had really not wanted to do this but roughly 2 months ago I was handed a report about Biden activities in China the press has simply refused to cover. I want to strongly emphasize I did not write the report but I know who did,” Balding said in an email.

Balding later claimed to NBC News that he wrote some of the document.

“I authored small parts of the report and was involved in report preparation and review. As a researcher, and due to the understandable worry about foreign disinformation, it was paramount that the report document activity from acknowledged and public sources,” Balding said. “Great care was taken to document, cite, and retain information so that acknowledged facts could be placed in the public domain.”


Image: Martin Aspen deepfake
A viral dossier about Hunter Biden was written by “Martin Aspen,” a fake identity whose profile picture was created by artificial intelligence.TyphoonInvesti1 / via Twitter

Balding said Aspen is “an entirely fictional individual created solely for the purpose of releasing this report.” Balding did not name the document’s main author, saying “the primary author of the report, due to personal and professional risks, requires anonymity.”

Balding claimed that the document was commissioned by Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based tabloid that is frequently critical of the Chinese government. A spokesperson for Apple Daily confirmed it had worked with Balding on the document.

In addition to posting the document to his blog, Balding also promoted it in far-right media, appearing on Bannon’s podcast and on “China Unscripted,” a podcast produced by The Epoch Times, a pro-Trump media outlet opposed to the Chinese government.

Balding, an American who taught economics at China’s Peking University HSBC Business School until 2018, is often critical of the Chinese government. He made news this year as a source uncovering a global bulk data collection operation by the Chinese company Shenzhen Zhenhua Data Technology.

Blog posts highlighting the most salacious parts of the document, including articles from the Intelligence Quarterly Blog, Revolver News and Balding’s blog, received 70,000 public interactions — which includes reactions, comments and shares — across Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, according to the social media analysis tool BuzzSumo.

Balding’s blog was the primary driver of virality in conservative and conspiracy communities. The report itself was shared across Facebook and Twitter around 5,000 times, according to BuzzSumo, and more than 80 sites linked back to the blog, which was shared more than 25,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. Hyperpartisan and conspiracy sites like ZeroHedge and WorldNetDaily led the pack.


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2 thoughts on “How a fake persona laid the groundwork for a Hunter Biden conspiracy deluge

  • What of the laptop photos that have been released? Those fake as well? Look pretty damn real, go look at gateway pundit yourself.


    • Hello Hunterscrackpipe. Gateway Pundit has no credibility. Here is why.

      The Gateway Pundit is an American far-right news and opinion website. The website is known for publishing falsehoods, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories. The Gateway Pundit expanded from a one-person enterprise into a multi-employee operation that is supported primarily by advertising revenue. Wikipedia

      The entire hunter Biden laptop story has been debunked. But let’s use reason to show why the story makes no sense.

      First look at the story being pushed. Hunter Biden was living in California at the time. However he spills something in his laptop, which he knows has incriminating evidence against him and his family, he then takes that laptop 3,000 miles across the country to a computer repair shop in Maryland.

      This makes no sense because he has plenty of money so only has to buy a new one, and if he was going to get it repaired he would use a local place. For the cost of flying 3,000 miles he could buy a great new laptop.

      So in Maryland he takes the laptop to a repair shop run by a guy who is legally blind who claims now he actually can not say it was Hunter Biden who dropped it off.

      Then Hunter leaves it there for three years, knowing it has the incriminating evidence on it. Really does that make sense? Well let’s think of a repair shop holding on to a broken laptop which is going more out of date every minute, for three years. I use to repair computers, and I kept a lot of parts, but never held on to a computer for three years taking up precious space. Especially if I was owed money on it, I would have sold that off or given it in trade as soon as legally able.

      But the blind repairman holds on to it for three years, decides to fix it, and finds evidence of all these illegal activities. Oh what to do? He calls the FBI who either comes to get the evidence and never does anything with it, ( the FBI denies it ever got contacted or was given any hard drives ) So he contacts Rudy Giuliani, who just happens to always be available to blind computer repair shop owners, and gives him the hard drives.

      Giuliani then shops the story around to different news media to get the story out. Surprise even Fox News won’t air the story claiming it has no factual basis they can verify. How ever they do report the story after the Post prints it, in a way that makes it hard to sue them. The writers at the post refuse to let their names be used on the article because they say they can not verify any of it as true.

      So now the story is out, and everyone wants proof right? Proof is good. But for some reason Giuliani won’t let anyone else examine the hard drives nor see the laptop. He has said on air he would, but when the reporters and experts try to see them he refuses. I wonder why?

      So Hunterscrackpipe, how does that story sound to you? Does it sound reasonable? That is the facts as to what happened and why it is a scam and no one believes it. If Giuliani has to make so much up with no proof think how little wrongdoing there is to find. Hope to hear back from you. Reason is a wonderful thing, and facts are pesky things we have to acknowledge. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

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