Belgian intelligence employees ‘outed themselves’ on LinkedIn

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.

6 Responses to Belgian intelligence employees ‘outed themselves’ on LinkedIn

  1. claudia says:

    i think this is very dangerous , i’ve seen many islamic extremists on fb and many pages which does al qaeda propaganda ….

  2. As a Linkedin member, it is easy to gain the trust of other members even though they could be anyone, as a Feelance Intelligence operative/researcher I have had some close calls with extremists trying to gain information, and from Intelligence officers looking at where my sources come from, you just have to be careful, check out those on your network and be aware of not revealing too much about yourselves, Al Qaeda and other Islamic groups are operating on there most of us are aware as for the Belgians they will learn from this mistake.

  3. TFH says:

    Give a little benefit of doubt eh? I know there is a tradition for ridiculing the Belgian, especially from the French, but this is a little too stupid. Anyone ponder if this was a ploy to attract and subvert attempt of espionage from foreign countries? This is a great excuse for ending any ‘false’ ventures of espionage. The papers get a great expose, the intel service can withdraw without suspicion …

  4. TFH says:

    Second thought: Maybe this is the big EU intel service (it it exists yet) discrediting a country local service before it makes its case for the need of an overall continent wide intel service. It just seems too incredible that this really happened, would someone in the CIA or MI5 state in their linkedin or facebook profile that they work for CIA or MI5? Would that not be something that goes without saying?

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  6. al says:

    One has to be careful with things like this. Right now in Belgium there are separatists who feel their time has almost come and anything they can come up with to discredit federal Belgian administrations or agencies is gist to their mill. Ridiculing federal agencies fits right into their agenda of ridiculing the Belgian state as inefficient and unnecessary. With the recent results of municipal elections showing a big surge for the separatist/secessionist party, the ideological descendents of the old Flemish Nazi party and other like minded are going full out.

    This public ‘outing’ is something that sounds quite unlikely to be the result of lame negligence and since it is in the purvey of the intelligence services, it cannot be publicly investigated fully. It may be true, it may not be true, but there is little chance of finding out what is going on.

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