A senior Belgian intelligence officer is under investigation over allegedly sharing secrets with the Russians, in a case that exposes fears about spying in the European Union and Nato.
An unnamed major who is the head of division at the general intelligence and security service (GISS), the equivalent of M16, is accused of having exchanged confidential information with a Serbian woman believed to be a Russian agent.
In another blow to the agency, it emerged that Clement Vandenborre, the head of counter-intelligence at GISS, was suspended from his post at the end of last month. He is alleged to have shredded confidential documents, according to the Flemish daily De Morgen, which broke the story on Vandenborre and the Russian spying allegations.
A spokesperson for Belgium’s defence ministry confirmed that an investigation was under way. “In order not to hinder this investigation, we will not comment on this subject,” the spokesperson said.
Die Welt reported earlier this week that, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the EU’s foreign affairs service, about 250 Chinese and 200 Russian spies were working in the Belgian capital, which is also home to Nato headquarters.
The latest allegations against the GISS will deepen long-standing concerns about infighting, low morale and rogue missions in the feuding organisations that make up Belgian intelligence.
The Dutch-language public broadcaster VRT reported this week that two senior officers from Belgium’s intelligence service had travelled to Damascus in 2016 to negotiate with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, without the knowledge of the then defence minister.