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Belgian intelligence chief says Brussels is "spy capital"

BRUSSELS, Sept 17 (KUNA) -- The head of Belgium's state security service, Alain Winants, said in an interview published Monday, that Brussels currently sees more spy activity than almost any other city in the world.
"We are not speaking in the dozens, we are speaking in the hundreds, several hundreds" of foreign intelligence officers and agents in Brussels, he told the Brussels-based website Euobserver in what is said to be his first interview with the international media.
"In Belgium, espionage, Russian espionage and from other countries, like the Chinese, but also others,is at the same level as the Cold War ... 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, " Winants was quoted saying.
He also named Iran as a culprit. It is a joke in intelligence circles that Iranian spies mostly spy on their own ambassadors.
When asked if EU-friendly countries, such as Israel or the US, do it, he said "It would be naive to think that only countries like Russia, China, Iran are spying." "One of the things that other countries' intelligence services are interested in is the energy policy of the EU institutions," he noted.
He said spies usually pretend to be diplomats, journalists, lobbyists, businessmen or students. (end) nk.asa KUNA 171226 Sep 12NNNN