Belgium suspends senior diplomat on suspicion of spying for Russia
October 8, 2012 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Belgian government has admitted suspending one of its senior diplomats following allegations in the press that he had spied for the Soviet Union and Russia for over two decades. According to Flemish-language Belgian magazine MO, the diplomat, identified only as “O.G.”, has been “suspended in the interest of the [Belgian diplomatic] service” and is currently under investigation by the Office of the Federal Prosecutor. Citing “sources in the Belgian State Security Service”, the SV/SE, the article said the subject was stationed at the Belgian embassy in Danish capital Copenhagen when he was recalled to Brussels late last year. The man is said to have spent nearly three decades as an employee of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, having served in several Belgian embassies and consulates in Japan, India, Algeria, Nigeria, Portugal, and the United States, prior to arriving in Denmark. However, according to the MO article, he was accosted by the Soviet KGB in the late 1980s, shortly after he arrived at the Belgian embassy in Tokyo, Japan, for his first-ever diplomatic posting. Since that time, said the magazine, “O.G.” has spied for the KGB and its successor, the SVR, having stayed in contact with “several different Russian handlers”. Prior to 2011, when he ceased contact with Russian intelligence, the Belgian diplomat was allegedly tasked with providing the FSB with information that could be used to concoct false identities belonging to deceased Belgian citizens. The Russians would then use these identities to supply their intelligence operatives with high-quality Belgian identity papers and travel documentation. Late last week, another Belgian publication, The EU Observer, contacted the Belgian Foreign Ministry to inquire about “O.G.”. A Ministry spokesperson told the paper: “we can confirm that an official from our ministry was suspended from his functions a bit over one year ago, following indications of a security breach”. The spokesperson, who spoke only in general terms, also indicated that the Ministry had “filed a complaint with Belgian [Federal] prosecutors” and that an inquiry was “ongoing”. Regular intelNews readers may remember a recent interview with the Director of the SV/SE, Alain Winants, who claimed last month that Brussels is “the spy capital of the world”. Winants told The EU Observer that Belgium, which hosts an enormous concentration of diplomats, members of international non-governmental organizations, as well as employees of transnational institutions like the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “is like a kindergarten” for spies, “the place to be” for intelligence operatives. He also warned that his agents lack adequate investigative powers to combat the alleged increased presence of foreign spies in the country, adding that his service is “relatively small given the large scope of threats we have to deal with”.