The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office has started criminal proceedings following the disclosed communication between a Chinese spy and former Flemish Vlaams Belang MP Frank Creyelman.
He was reportedly implicated as an alleged Chinese intelligence asset in a joint investigation by the Financial Times, Der Spiegel and Le Monde. Creyelman, also a former senator, is accused of operating under the guidance of an official within China’s Ministry of State Security spy agency.
Beijing allegedly tried to use Creyelman to favourably influence European Union policy on China. He was kicked out of Vlaams Belang in December last year and his brother Steven, an active politician for the same party, resigned from his position as chair of the Committee on Military Procurement.
On January 10, Belgium’s new Justice Minister Paul Van Tigchelt informed Parliament that in December, the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau published a report on the case and that the federal prosecutor’s office has launched an inquiry.
“The federal prosecutor’s office is currently working on it,” Van Tigchelt told Parliament. “We are only at the beginning of a long investigation that will have to determine the role and responsibilities of each person.”
Van Tighchelt claimed China was operating in the “grey area between lobbying, political influence and espionage”.
Politicians, he said, are thought to be “prime targets for the Chinese influence machine”.
The federal prosecutor’s office acknowledged the news but said it was “too early” to provide further information.
Van Tigchelt was commenting in response to Green politicians who also pressed charges against Steven Creyelman in the ethics committee after he chose to remain silent about the alleged warning from Belgian State Security, despite his then-holding the chair of the Committee on Military Procurement.
Vlaams Belang members say they are being unjustly “attacked and smeared” by political opponents. They expect the investigation to drag on until the federal elections in June in order, they claim, to generate “maximum damage”.
On X, party President Tom Van Grieken, although “shadow-banned”, said the investigation was “too ridiculous for words”.
“The truth: Minister Van Tigchelt (who had to resign from a cabinet for corruption!) abuses his power as Justice Minister to attack a political opponent. Payback June 9!” he wrote.