Tuesday, May 21, 2024
 
 

Former EU diplomat loses security clearance over allegations of spying for China

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET
European flags in front of European commission headquarters, also called Berlaymont Building in Brussels, Belgium, 13 March 2018.

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A German diplomat suspected of working as a secret agent for China had his security clearance revoked and was recalled from his job as EU ambassador to South Korea.
Last week, German prosecutors said they were investigating three people suspected of spying for China, including a former EU diplomat, who first worked at the EU Commission, and later for the EU External Action Service.
He is accused of “sharing private and commercial information to China’s ministry for state security”.
They did not name him, but they said he also served as an EU ambassador to multiple countries and joined a lobbying firm in 2017. The lobbying firm stated its employee denies the allegations.
“The person you refer to is a former EEAS staff member, who retired in 2017. He was head of the EU delegation to the Republic of Korea as of September 2015. His national security authority withdrew his security clearance after his posting. He was subsequently recalled to Headquarters in 2016 upon the notification of the withdrawal by the competent authority”, a spokesperson for the European External Action Service said, and added:
“The reason why his national security authority withdrew his security clearance is a matter for the national security authority. They are responsible for conducting investigations leading to the granting, but also possible withdrawal, of security clearances and they do not have to provide the EU institutions with reasons for doing so”.
EU institutions rely on national authorities to provide security clearances for their diplomatic staff. However, national authorities are not obligated to explain their decisions to the EU.
The rare case comes amid increased Western fears about China spying. In the last months, the US has been pressuring its Western allies to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from launching its 5G mobile networks. Germany, however, has so far said it does not want to exclude any provider.

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