Politics Security

Belgium: Are the security services spying on politicians?

13 February 2013
Presseurop
De Morgen

De Morgen, 13 February 2013

"Abolish the Sûreté d'Etat," runs a February 13 headline in Belgian daily De Morgen, quoting socialist Renaat Landuyt who wants to get rid of the country's security service. An expert in legal issues, Landuyt argues that "secret services like the Sûreté d'Etat are out-of-date". In early February, the press published the names of several Belgian politicians mentioned in a secret report by the Sûreté d'Etat. These politicians were said to be linked to religious cults such as The Church of Scientology. This raised the question of whether the 'Sûreté d'Etat' is secretly spying on politicians.

The head of the Sûreté d'Etat, Alain Winants appeared on television on February 11 to state that no files on politicians existed. Yet, on the desk behind him, in plain view, was a file with the name of Filip Dewinter, head of the far-right Vlaamse Belang. The same day, Bart Debie, a former police commissioner and Dewinter advisor, revealed that he had been a "mole" inside the Vlaamse Belang. Yesterday, the Sûreté d'Etat declared that the file with Dewinter's name was "an old legal file".

"The parliament should control the Sûreté d'Etat and not the other way around," says De Morgen in an editorial, adding –

In the midst of the Cold War, in the fight against the Communist danger, each Western nation had an espionage sevice [...]. But the Cold War is over and today's threats come from religious extremists rather than from political extremists.