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Veteran Belgian Politician Was a Spy for Chinese Intelligence, Report Alleges

A LONGTIME BELGIAN POLITICIAN worked as a spy for Chinese intelligence for at least three years, according to a joint investigation by a consortium of European news media. Until last week, the politician, Frank Creyelman, 62, was a leading member of Vlaams Belang, a far-right separatist party that draws nearly the entirety of its support from northern Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flemish regions. In addition to seeking to separate Flanders from Belgium, Vlaams Belang opposes immigration and multiculturalism, with much of its criticism directed at Islam.

From 1995 until 2014, Creyelman served as a member of the Flemish Parliament or the Belgian Senate, representing the Antwerp Province. During that time, he became known for his pro-Russian views, which he continued to propagate in retirement. In 2021, he voiced strong skepticism against the Belgian government’s efforts to provide diplomatic, financial, and military support to Ukraine. Following his retirement from frontline politics, Creyelman became an honorary member of the Flemish Parliament. He also remained chairman of Vlaams Belang in his home city of Mechelen, a Dutch-speaking stronghold.

Last week, however, a joint investigation by the British newspaper The Financial Times, French newspaper Le Monde and German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, claimed that Creyelman worked as a spy for China for at least three years. Citing unnamed “intelligence officials from four Western countries”, the investigation claimed that Creyelman had been recruited by Daniel Woo, a case officer for China’s Ministry of State Security. Woo is believed to work out of the MSS branch in China’s far-eastern province of Zhejiang, though he has also served tours in Europe under diplomatic cover, including in Romania and Poland.

It is not known how the MSS recruited Creyelman. It appears that most of his communication with his alleged MSS handler took place via text messages. However, it is claimed that in 2019 Creyelman traveled to Sanya, a popular tourist resort in China’s Hainan Island, where he allegedly met Woo and possibly other MSS operatives. Notably, the journalists behind the investigation into Creyelman claim that they have accessed incriminating messages exchanged between Creyelman and Woo. The text messages span the period between early 2019 and late 2022.

In the text messages, Woo asks Creyelman to try to influence senior-level discussions in Belgium and elsewhere concerning China’s treatment of its ethnic Muslim populations in the Xinjiang Province. The far-right politician was also instructed to find ways to vilify and discredit European researchers and academics who were documenting China’s treatment of ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang. Woo also asked Creyelman to try to quell criticism of China’s crackdown of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. In one message, Woo explained that China’s purpose was “to divide the US-European relationship”.

Last Friday, just hours after the allegations about Creyelman’s alleged espionage emerged, Vlaams Belang announced that it had expelled him from its ranks. In a social media post, the party’s leader, Tom Van Grieken, denounced Creyelman’s espionage as going “against the purpose and essence, even the name, of our party”. He added: “The only loyalty for nationalists can only be to their own nation”.

Source: Intel News