Belgian intelligence employees ‘outed themselves’ on LinkedIn
November 28, 2012 6 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Several alleged employees of Belgian security and intelligence agencies have revealed their identities on social networking sites, it has been reported. Belgian newspaper De Standaard, which made the revelation in a leading article on Tuesday, said that many LinkedIn and Facebook users appear to list their employer as Belgium’s State Security Agency (Sûreté de l’État or SE/SV) or the Coordinating Body for Threat Analysis (OCAM/OCAD). The SE is Belgium’s foremost civilian intelligence agency, operating under the country’s Ministry of Justice. OCAM is one of Belgium’s several anti-terrorist intelligence collection and analysis agencies, which operates under the joint supervision of the Justice and Interior Ministries. De Standaard contacted the two agencies, which refused to comment on whether the social networking profiles are authentic. But the paper spoke with an unnamed Belgian senior intelligence official, who said that this was potentially a very serious issue for Belgian national security. “Russian and Chinese intelligence services employ thousands of people”, said the official, “and have the resources and time to manually search for such profiles and then exploit the information they provide. Our people could, by their very presence on such sites, become the target of hostilities”. De Standaard also spoke to Belgian Senator Dirk Claes, who is a member of the country’s Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence. He told the paper that his colleagues in the Committee would be up in arms if the profiles turned out to be authentic. “These individuals have security clearances and are obligated to stay in the background, as much as possible. I will be raising this issue in the [Intelligence] Committee”, Claes told De Standaard. This is not the first apparent connection between social networking sites and potentially serious security breaches. In 2009, we reported that members of Sweden’s armed forces serving with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Afghanistan were approached on Facebook and asked to provide details on NATO operations in the country. In 2010, officers with the Israel Defense Forces were accosted by Facebook users posing as young women, in what appeared to be attempts to collect intelligence. Many intelNews regulars will remember the case of John Sawers, Director of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who had compromising personal details published on his wife’s Facebook account. Information on Shelley Sawers’ page revealed details about the couple’s residence and place of work, their friends, family, as well as their favorite holiday destination.