Authorisation for SGRS to receive more comprehensive spy powers
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    Authorisation for SGRS to receive more comprehensive spy powers

    © Belga
    Greater spy powers, for the army intelligence services, are soon to be debated in parliament.
    © Belga

    The General Intelligence and Security Service (commonly known as the SGRS or army intelligence services), coming under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence, will have broader powers. This is indicated in De Standaard today (Wednesday).

    Currently these army intelligence spies can do very little outside of Belgium.

    The SGRS thus, for example, only has the power to examine the GSM of a terrorist, found by the military, when on a particular mission abroad.

    Henceforth, all of this is set to change.

    State Security Services and the SGRS have introduced via the Justice Minister, Geens, and the Defence Minister, Vandeput, an especially diverse list of changes, which should allow them to update their operations.

    This list will be debated as a bill in parliament.

    In practical terms, the SGRS will, if these proposals are passed, be able to use all of these specific intelligence methods when abroad.

    The SGRS could be considered as the Belgian equivalent of the British MI6, despite having a more reduced budget and fewer missions.

    Although the proposals broaden the remit of intelligence services, control over intelligence services operation will not fundamentally change.

    The new proposals by Koen Geens and Steven Vandeput also anticipate that intelligence services, and in particular State Security, will be able to set up their own operations teams.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times