Chinese spying probe: Vlaams Belang MP won't stand for re-election

Chinese spying probe: Vlaams Belang MP won't stand for re-election
Frank Creyelman and Steven Creyelman. Credit: Belga

Vlaams Belang MP Steven Creyelman will not contest in the upcoming elections because of a Chinese espionage scandal surrounding his brother Frank Creyelman, formerly of the same political party.

Frank Creyelman informed Chinese intelligence and attempted to influence Belgian politics in Beijing's favour for over three years, a joint investigation of the Financial Times, Der Spiegel and Le Monde revealed in December. Vlaams Belang promptly expelled him from the party.

His brother Steven was implicated in the case as well, though insists on his innocence. His decision to step down as MP acknowledges the "huge and profound impact" the scandal had on him. "To deny that would be totally disingenous," he stated in a press release.

The far-right politician had originally intended to run as Vlaams Belang's fourth candidate in east Flanders but will now return to local politics in the Flemish municipality Buggenhout instead.

Brotherly influence

Frank Creyelman's instrumentalisation by Beijing allegedly aimed to "divide US-EU relations," according to a message exchange between Chinese Ministry of State Security Daniel Woo and the former MP.

A slew of disruptive activities included persuading MEPs to undermine energy deals between the EU and the US, as well as orders to "attack" Adrian Zenz, a German anthropology researcher who helped reveal how China was detaining hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Creyelman also reportedly tried to influence his younger brother. Justice Minister Paul Van Tigchelt announced a formal investigation into the latter in January when the Belgian Greens (Groen and Ecolo) filed a complaint with the Federal Ethics Commission against him for possible Chinese interference in the Chamber.

The MP reportedly asked several parliamentary questions relating to migration from Hong Kong. In addition, he failed to notify party leader Tom Van Grieken when he first became aware that his brother was suspected of espionage.

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