Belgian MPs targeted by Chinese hackers call for investigation and sanctions

Five Belgian MPs targeted by Chinese hackers are calling for a judicial investigation and sanctions against the perpetrators, De Standaard and Le Soir write on Monday.

Last week, it emerged that MPs Els Van Hoof and Samuel Cogolati were targeted in 2021 by the hacker group APT31, which is linked to the Chinese ministry of State Security. 

An FBI investigation revealed this in 2022 and reported it to the Belgian authorities. The same investigation revealed that MEPs Hilde Vautmans and Guy Verhofstadt and MP Georges Dallemagne were also targeted in a large-scale cyber-espionage campaign using phishing emails. 

This is according to IPAC, the international association of parliamentarians working on human rights in China. Several people at IPAC believe that Belgium did not dare to warn the MPs in 2022 for fear of a diplomatic row.

Proportionate response

The five MPs believe more decisive action is needed. "We want there to be a proportionate response," they said. To begin with, they want the Belgian government to formally attribute the attack to APT31, "as the US and the UK have already done, and as Belgium itself did when the Defense and Interior departments were attacked by the same hackers in July 2022".

The five MPs are calling for the APT31 hackers' financial assets to be frozen and for them to be officially banned from entering the country. They also ask that MPs be better protected and notified more quickly if such attacks occur again.


MEP and former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2017 © PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels