Reports: “a dangerous Moroccan spy” at the heart of a European corruption case “linked to Qatar”

Reports from European media highlighted that “a Moroccan intelligence agent” played a major role in the corruption case within the European Parliament linked to Qatar, described by the magazine “Politico“By Qatar Gate”, in reference to the American “Watergate” scandal.

The magazine quoted that the title of “Moroccan spy”, whose codename is “M118”, noting that his name emerged as one of the main operators in the corruption scandal, which was reported to be “related to Qatar”, which shook the foundations of the European Parliament. While Doha has repeatedly denied its relationship with it.

The magazine pointed out that the “Moroccan agent”, whose name was mentioned as “Mohamed Belharsh”, had been running circles around European spy agencies for years.

According to Politico, Balharch was at the center of a “complex network stretching from Qatar and Morocco to Italy, Poland and Belgium”. He is suspected of having been involved in extensive lobbying efforts and alleged corruption targeting members of the European Parliament in recent years. It turned out that he had been known to European intelligence services for some time.

It is noteworthy that the Belgian police confiscated equipment and more than 1.5 million euros in cash, after raids on at least 20 homes and offices.

Last week, the Belgian Minister of Justice, Vincent van Quickenborn, only referred to a country involved in the investigation, without mentioning it by name, referring to “a country that was previously mentioned in recent years … when it comes to intervention.” While the magazine said that the Belgian official was referring to Morocco and reports about Moroccan espionage activity in Belgian territory, where there is a large Moroccan community.

Newspapers indicatedNo Republica“Italian and”Le SoirThe Belgian government indicated that links between Belharch and former member of the European Parliament, Pierre Antonio Panziri, are with Moroccan intelligence. Rabat did not officially comment on these reports.

The Italian politician Panziri is now in prison, facing preliminary charges of corruption in the investigation into whether Morocco and Qatar bought influence in the European Parliament.

The magazine reports that diplomatic cables leaked in 2014 and 2015 showed that Panziri, a member of the European Parliament, is described as a “close” friend of Morocco, an influential ally and “capable of combating the increasing activity of our enemies in the European Parliament.”

European investigators are working to reveal how close Panziri is to Morocco.

Panziri co-chairs the EU-Morocco Parliamentary Committee with Abderrahim Othman, Morocco’s ambassador to Warsaw, and a seasoned diplomat keen to promote Morocco’s interests in Brussels circles.

The magazine notes that “it is now suspected that Othman was taking orders from Belharch, who is considered a “dangerous man,” as described by an official familiar with the investigation to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Panziri was associated with the Moroccan foreign intelligence service after his failure to be re-elected to Parliament in 2019.

Now, the magazine says that Balharsh may also be a key to unraveling one of the lingering mysteries in the corruption case “linked to Qatar”.

The Belgian extradition request seen by POLITICO refers to a shadowy figure linked to a credit card given to Panziri’s relatives, as “The Giant”. Speculation swirls about whether Balharsh was this “giant”.

European media say that Belharch is not a beginner in European espionage circles, as his name has appeared in many espionage cases over the past decade.

newspaper saysElconfidnashSpanish His name appeared for the first time after the outbreak of the issue of infiltration into Spanish mosques, which led to the deportation of the Moroccan director of an Islamic organization in Catalonia.

In turn, the newspaper indicatesElmondoThe Spanish said that Belharch was responsible for managing agents in mosques at the request of Moroccan intelligence.

Soon after, Belharch resurfaced in France, where he played a leading role in a corruption case at Paris’ Orly airport.

A Moroccan agent, known at the time as “Mohamed B,” allegedly obtained up to 200 secret files on terrorism suspects in France from a French border officer, according to an investigation published in Liberation French.

The officer, who was arrested and placed under formal investigation in 2017, provided confidential materials relating to individuals on terrorist watch lists and wanted persons transiting through the airport to the Moroccan agent in exchange for four-star holidays in Morocco.

French authorities have not brought charges against Belharch, who disappeared when his network was exposed. According to a French official familiar with the investigation, Belharch was cooperating with France at the time by providing intelligence on counter-terrorism matters, and he was released for this reason.

Politico says that European countries sometimes turn a blind eye to these activities because Moroccan agents provide information to European intelligence services.

The intelligence services of France, Spain and Morocco did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Politico.

The official spokesman for the Moroccan government and the Moroccan embassy in Washington also did not respond to Al-Hurra’s request for comment yet.

Politico concludes that Belharch, after his disappearance five years ago from France, the agent “M118” has reappeared with the emergence of the “Qatar Ghaith” case in the European Parliament.

In connection with the file, the Moroccan Prime Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, on Thursday, filed a defamation lawsuit in Paris against the former French European representative, Jose Buffet, who claimed that the Kingdom tried to bribe him on the sidelines of negotiations regarding a trade deal at the beginning of the last decade, according to documents seen by Agence France-Presse. .

Bovet told France Inter radio, on Friday, that when he was rapporteur of the Foreign Trade Committee “in the years 2009-2014”, he opposed the “harmful” free trade agreement relating to fruit and vegetable trade between the European Union and Morocco.

Buffet’s accusations came at the height of the European corruption case itself, in which Qatar is suspected of involvement, and particularly affects the Vice-President of the European Foundation, Eva Kayley.

On Thursday, the Belgian judiciary decided to keep the Greek representative in the European Parliament, Eva Kayli, in pretrial detention as part of an investigation into suspicions of corruption related to Qatar, according to what the Federal Public Prosecutor announced.

The case has shocked Brussels and Strasbourg, prompting European Parliament President Roberta Metsola to announce “broad reforms” by 2023.

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