Clement Vandenborre, chief of the counterintelligence directorate of Belgium’s General Information and Security Services (ADIV), was placed under house arrest on suspicions of destroying classified material. He has been temporarily relieved from his post until the conclusion of an internal investigation.

This was first published by Belgium newspaper De Morgen, which cites multiple sources.

Vandenborre, a 40-year veteran of ADIV, denied any wrongdoing or knowledge about the matter. Yet internal investigators decided to seal his office in late January 2019.

The chief of the Belgian counterintelligence directorate stands accused of destroying confidential paperwork using a paper shredder. A De Morgen investigation indicates Vandenborre’s motivations might stem from wider tensions within the ADIV. There are reports of longstanding animosities between civilian personnel and military officers of the agency, and a generational gap exacerbated the tensions.

Clement Vandenborre

There were also allegations leveled by a counterintelligence officer, who wrote a letter about suspicions against an officer from the Intelligence Directorate. According to the letter, a Major who is unnamed, provided a female Serbian official classified information in 2016 during a special operation. The allegation states the female Serbian official was a Russian double agent and received classified data from the unnamed Major.

The ADIV has a somewhat unusual structure. The counterintelligence directorate is staffed by mainly civilian personnel, and the intelligence directorate with mostly military officers. Recently, younger officers complained about their chiefs’ management style.

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The struggle for more power within the ADIV between intelligence and counterintelligence is not a solely Belgium phenomenon, as it’s noted in agencies around the world. However, in this situation, tensions ran so high that the former head of service, Gen. Eddy Testelmans, was ousted in 2016. Testelmans was fired after a group of eight counterintelligence officers—including the now-accused Vandenborre—sent a letter which criticized his policies to the Belgian Defense Minister, Steven Vandeput.

Claude Van de Voorde, a retired Belgian Air Force officer and former cabinet chief of Testelmans, now heads the agency. Was unsuccessful at reining-in the warring factions.

A joint investigation into Vandenborre and his subordinate, who is accused of Russian espionage, is directed by a supervising committee of the ADIV and Belgium’s federal prosecutor. The outcome will be crucial for Belgium and its wider NATO allies.

Editor’s note: This article has been modified after it mistakenly identified Clement Vandenborre as being directly guilty of espionage.