Alain Winants, the director of Belgium’s state security service, in a rare interview with international media talked openly about various issues including ‘spies and espionage’ (see article: Intelligence chief: EU capital is ‘spy capital’ http://euobserver.com/secret-ue/117553 ).
The Belgian State Security Service, known in Dutch as Veiligheid van de Staat, or Staatsveiligheid (SV), and in French as Sûreté de l’État (SE), is a Belgian intelligence agency. The mission of the Belgian State Security, which it does very effectively, is the collection, analyzing and processing of all intelligence that might prove relevant to the prevention of any activity that might be a threat against the internal or external security of the state, the democratic and constitutional order and international relations, to carry out security inquiries, and to perform tasks in relation to the protection of certain people.
The interview with the director of the state security service offers a rare look inside the thinking of one of Europe’s top spymasters.
Winants said, “the level of espionage (inside Belgium) is the same if not even higher than in the days of the Cold War.”
“Some services thought that with the coming down of the Berlin wall the Cold War was over and espionage was something of the past. But we can state that in Belgium, espionage, Russian espionage and from other countries, like the Chinese, but also others, we are at the same level as the Cold War, which is not surprising given where we are”, he said.
“We are a country with an enormous concentration of diplomats, businessmen, international institutions, NATO, European institutions. So for an intelligence officer, for a spy, this is a kindergarten. It’s the place to be. You have people here who have commercial and political information, people whom you can try to recruit, people you can try to influence. You have governments where you can try to lobby. And the border between allowed lobbying and not-allowed interference – influence and espionage – is sometimes very hard to identify. Given the special context we have here, I think you can safely say that Brussels is one of the big spy capitals of the world” he added (see transcript: Belgian intelligence chief talks to EUobserver: transcript http://euobserver.com/secret-ue/117554).
Brussels, Belgium is the headquarters of the North Atalantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the capitol of the EU (European Union) and home to over 1 million people (see video: Brussels, Belgium: Cultural Capital http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9xD-5K_f5Y).