Belgian Counterintelligence Chief Suspected of Spying for Russia
Belgium’s intelligence service ADIV has been plagued by a long-standing conflict between its intelligence and counter-intelligence departments.
An unnamed counterintelligence head in Belgium’s intelligence service has been placed under house arrest over suspicions that he might have spied for Russia.
At the same time, Clement Vandenborre, the head of the counterintelligence department within Belgium’s General Information and Security Service (ADIV) has been temporarily removed from office for the duration of an internal investigation as he has been accused of destroying classified documents, according to Belgian newspaper De Morgen, which cites several sources.
Vandenborre, who has been with the Belgian counterintelligence service for 40 years, has denied the accusations.
The unnamed Belgian counterintelligence division head with the rank of major has had his office sealed. He stands accused of spying for Russia based on a letter by another Belgian counterintelligence officer.
The letter alleges that during a special operation in Serbia back in 2016, the major provided the Serbs with access to classified information.
The Serbian woman who was Vandenborre’s contact is believed to have been a double agent for Russia.
The head of the counterintelligence department at the Belgian intelligence service is also accused of destroying confidential documents in a paper shredder.
The report of De Morgen connects the Russian espionage accusations and the investigation against Vandenborre with long-standing tensions within Belgium’s intelligence ADIV stemming from conflicts between officers with military and civilian backgrounds as well as generational rift between older operatives and their younger colleagues.
While the counterintelligence department of ADIV is staffed mostly with civilians, the intelligence department features mostly military personnel.
At the same time, younger officers from Vandenborre’s department have complained by his management style.
The long-standing power struggle between the intelligence and counterintelligence departments of ADIV played a decisive role in the resignation of the service’s then head, Gen. Eddy Testelmans back in 2016.
Testelmans retired after eight officers from the counterintelligence department, including Clement Vandenborre who is now accused of espionage in favor of Russia, criticized his policies in a letter to then Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput.
After Testelmans’ resignation, Belgium’s ADIV has been led by his Cabinet chief, Gen. Claude Van de Voorde, who made his career in the Belgian Air Force.
The Russian espionage accusations against Clement Vandenborre are also probed by a joint investigation of Belgium’s federal prosecutor and the committee supervising the intelligence service.
Editorial note: The original version of this article has been corrected as more details about the case in hand have become available.
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