Sunday

19th Jan 2020

Belgian diplomat suspected of being Russian spy

  • College d'Europe library in Bruges, where O.G. studied (Photo: Rete dei CDE italian)

The Belgian foreign ministry has suspended one of its people in Denmark due to a "security breach," amid reports he is a Russian spy.

A Belgian spokesman told EUobserver on Friday (5 October): "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 ministry of foreign affairs has filed a complaint with Belgian prosecutors and an inquiry is ongoing."

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Belgian magazine MO broke the story earlier the same day in an article citing sources in the Belgian state security service, the VSSE.

It said he is suspected of helping Russian intelligences services, the FSB and SVR, to set up false identities for spies in Belgium, the home of the EU institutions and Nato headquarters.

It noted that the suspect, identified by his intials "O.G.," is a 57-year-old man from Bruges who had studied Slavic languages in Ghent University and who also did a post-graduate course at the Bruges-based College d'Europe - an international school known for training future EU officials.

He was later posted as a Belgian diplomat to Algeria, India, Japan, Portugal, Nigeria and the US before coming to Copenhagen.

MO added that his first contact with the FSB began 25 years ago, in a long-term relationship reminiscent of the case of Herman Simm.

Simm is a former Estonian defence official who was jailed in 2009 for giving EU and Nato secrets to the SVR in a spy career which lasted almost 30 years.

MO said it is unclear whether O.G. has broken Belgium's anti-espionage law, which dates back to 1934.

It quoted Belgian federal prosecutor, Johan Delmulle, as saying: "The present judicial arsenal concerning espionage is hopelessly outdated. Mr Winants, the head of state security, recently claimed that hundreds of spies are active in Brussels. A parliamentary debate is welcome on what in anno 2012 is considered to be espionage and what should be punished. A reflection on this topic is needed, especially bearing in mind the presence of numerous international institutions on Belgian soil, such as Nato or the institutions of the EU."

Alain Winants, the VSSE chief, spoke out on spy activity in the EU capital last month in an interview with EUobserver.

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