Qatargate corruption scandal probe widens to include Moroccan spy services

European ParliamentTHE CRIMINAL CORRUPTION SCANDAL known as Qatargate, which has rocked the European Parliament in recent weeks, involves covert influence operations by Moroccan spies, in addition to Qatari intelligence operatives, according to news reports.

On December 9 and 10, Belgian and Italian police arrested a dozen politicians, European Parliament aides, civil servants, lobbyists, and members of their families. Over €2 million in cash and other assets has since been seized by authorities, as a Europe-wide investigation continues. Those arrested included Eva Kaili, vice president of the European Parliament, which is among the core legislative bodies of the European Union. Kaili and her co-conspirators are accused of selling their ability to influence European Union policies on Qatar, in exchange for cash and other perks. Although the government of Qatar vehemently denies having a role in the scandal, it is widely believed that operatives linked to Qatari authorities facilitated the bribes.

During the past week, however, several reports in European news outlets have been alleging that, in addition to Qatar, the Kingdom of Morocco also appears to have been involved in parallel efforts to buy influence within the European Parliament. Early clues of this development surfaced during the week of December 12 in the Belgian broadsheet Le Soir and the Italian daily La Republica. The reports focused on an intelligence operative codenamed M118, who allegedly worked for the General Directorate for Studies and Documentation (DGED), the foreign spy service of Morocco.

Last week, a new report in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel supported the theory that M118 is Mohamed Belahrech. Belahrech is allegedly an identified DGED operative, who is believed to have recruited two members of the European Parliament from Italy, Antonio Panzeri and Andrea Cozzolino, as well as Francesco Giorgi, Kaili’s Italian partner. Giorgi, a key figure in Qatargate, remains in custody. Der Spiegel also claims that Abderrahim Atmun, Morocco’s ambassador to Poland, led the Moroccan government’s efforts to recruit the three Italians. According to the report, the three were in direct communication with Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, director general of the DGED.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 January 2023 | Permalink

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