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9 Feb, 2019 12:05

EU diplomats warned to stay out of pubs & cafes to avoid Russian & Chinese ‘spies’

EU diplomats warned to stay out of pubs & cafes to avoid Russian & Chinese ‘spies’

Brussels is flooded with hundreds of Russian and Chinese agents, the EU security services warned diplomats, saying they must watch where they go for meals and pastimes, German media reported.

There are “around 250 Chinese and 200 Russian spies” snooping around in the EU’s unofficial capital, Brussels, diplomats told German paper Welt am Sonntag, citing a warning they got from the European External Action Service (EEAS).

The same notice was also sent out to EU military officials. In order to avoid being targeted by Moscow or Beijing, the diplomats were strongly advised to stay out of certain parts of Brussels' European Quarter where the majority of the key EU institutions are based, the paper wrote.

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The 'no-go' places included a “popular” steakhouse and a cafe close to the Berlaymont building, which hosts the European Commission, and the EEAS HQ nearby.

According to the report, the Chinese and Russian 'spies' typically operate in their nation’s embassies and trade offices, but they aren’t the only problem – as the US, and even Moroccan agents, are said to be active in the Belgian capital as well.

The only actual past spy row the paper cites is from more than a decade ago. In 2003, listening devices were found installed in the Justus Lipsius building, which back then hosted the European Council. The US and Israel were named as potential suspects but the subsequent probe failed to link the bugging with any particular country.

Interestingly enough, Welt am Sonntag omits the much more widely-covered spying controversy of recent years – the allegations of NSA surveillance of European politicians. The revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested that Americans had tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others.

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Merkel herself expressed public outrage over the case. “Spying among friends – that simply isn’t done,” she said at the time, adding that she told then-US president Barack Obama “we're not in the Cold War anymore.”

The German probe into the phone-tapping allegations was, however, dropped after the prosecutors said that they couldn’t find evidence that would hold up in court.

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