The state intelligence service has briefed political parties taking part in the coming elections of 26 May on the dangers of interference in the process by foreign governments, such as Russia or China, various papers report. The interference in the US presidential election of November 2016 has been the subject of investigation since before then, and suspicion has reached as high as the president himself.
State security here has made no suggestion of domestic parties colluding in outside interference, but briefed the parties in order to alert them to the risks.
The intelligence services, civilian and military alike, see it as their role to prevent such interference, although there is no evidence any campaign is already under way. As a preventive measure, the services screen the profiles of people on social media who appear to be spreading fake news. The intelligence community considers Belgium to be at particular risk because it is the home of Nato and the EU, and will soon take a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
So far, no suspicious patterns have emerged, the politicians were told, but a peak in activity can be expected about six weeks before the elections, around mid-April. Coincidentally, given the furore over the former Flemish climate minister’s claim of a conspiracy surrounding climate protests, the inteligence services have warned that controversial issues such as migration, labour and climate are areas where outside forces are likely to be active.
The security services have also published a guide for the use of political parties to help them employ the internet tools they will use in campaigning more safely.