A former British spy is being investigated by intelligence agencies in the UK and Belgium on suspicion that he might have collaborated with the Chinese regime. The ex-spy, Fraser Cameron, currently runs a Brussels-based think-tank called the EU-Asia Center.
Working for China
Cameron worked for MI6 in the early 1990s, after which he was employed at the European Commission where he specialized in international coverage. In 2006, he started pursuing opportunities in consultancies and think-tanks. According to Belgian security officials, Cameron has passed sensitive political and intelligence information regarding European institutions to two Chinese journalists working in Brussels. In exchange, he is believed to have received thousands of euros. These journalists have ties with the Chinese military as well as the country’s Ministry of State Security. One official from the European Commission calls the ex-spy as being “very close to Beijing.”
The investigation into Cameron’s activities was conducted by the UK’s MI5 and the Belgian state safety service jointly. MI5 has also issued an espionage alert that warns foreign governments and intelligence agencies that Cameron might pose a security risk. “[The case needs to be] a clear signal that anyone who is involved in espionage in Brussels will sooner or later be on the radar of the intelligence services and will not be able to continue his activities with impunity,” Belgium’s state safety service said, as reported by INewsly.
Cameron has denied the allegations leveled against him, stating that they are “without foundation.” He denied having any access to sensitive information at present and said that he has been retired from official employment for 15 years. Cameron argues that he does have a wide range of Chinese contacts since his duties at the EU-Asia Center requires having such relationships. He admitted that the center receives an annual grant from the Chinese diplomatic mission to the EU. However, the money is used to organize events related to EU-China ties. The former spy added that he receives no other funds from the Chinese.
Now, even if Belgian authorities find that Cameron was indeed involved in selling secrets to the Chinese, they cannot press charges since the country, surprisingly, does not classify espionage as a crime. This means that prosecutors will have to charge Cameron with some other crime in order to punish him for colluding with Beijing. Back in 2018, a Belgian diplomat who was found to have leaked state secrets to Russian intelligence had to be charged with “illegal association with the purpose of committing forgery,” not espionage.
China’s espionage in Britain has been a serious concern for the government of the UK. It was recently discovered that a Chinese company with links to the PLA has data on 40,000 Britishers, including key people like Prince Charles, Boris Johnson, Prince Philip, and many cabinet members of the government, as well as military officers. This information was leaked by an American academic Christopher Balding who is himself being tracked by Beijing.
Information collected by the Shenzhen-based Zhenhua Data includes dates of birth, criminal records, social media accounts, professional histories, educational qualifications, drug offenses, and so on. The exposé has caused a huge furor in the country, with Foreign Affairs Select Committee chair Tom Tugendhat pointing out that the data collection shows China is looking at the UK as a sphere of influence it needs to control.