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Qatar says ‘inaccurate’ information in Belgium corruption probe

Authorities charged four people, including a vice president of the European Parliament, for an alleged influence campaign.

A Qatari official has said that a Belgian investigation into an alleged attempt to influence the European Parliament was based on “inaccurate” information and could “negatively” affect relations between the two countries.

The statement on Sunday by a diplomat from Qatar’s mission to the European Union reiterated a previous rejection of attempts to associate the Gulf country with misconduct.

“Qatar was not the only party named in the investigation, however, our country has been exclusively criticized and attacked,” the statement said. “We have watched this week’s targeted condemnation of our country with great alarm.”

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According to media reports, Moroccan interests are also facing scrutiny in the investigation.

The diplomat added: “It is deeply disappointing that the Belgian government has not made any effort to engage with our government to establish the facts once they became aware of the allegations.”

Four people, including Eva Kaili, the Greek vice president of the European Parliament, were charged in Belgium after investigators said a series of raids uncovered around 1.5 million euros ($1.59 million).

Prosecutors said the money was part of an influence campaign by a Gulf state, which various media outlets later identified as Qatar, the country currently hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Last week, the European Parliament voted to suspend the access of Qatari representatives to the body. The members also halted Qatar-related legislative work, including a visa waiver for Qataris and Kuwaitis traveling to the bloc and an EU-Qatar aviation deal.

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The Qatari diplomat condemned those moves on Sunday, saying they were premature.

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“The decision to impose such a discriminatory restriction that limits dialogue and cooperation in Qatar before the legal process is finalized will negatively affect regional and global security cooperation, as well as ongoing discussions on global energy, poverty and security,” said the diplomat.

The statement also highlighted the “close” relationship between Qatar and Belgium.

“Our nations cooperated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Qatar is a major supplier of LNG. [liquified natural gas] to Belgium,” he said.

Kaili, a socialist once considered a rising Greek politician, was sacked from her position as vice president of the European Parliament following the arrest. She was also fired from the Greek socialist party PASOK.

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EU lawmakers have warned that the allegations risk undermining the bloc’s credibility.

For its part, Qatar has maintained since the accusation arose that its government “works through institution-to-institution engagement and operates in full compliance with international laws and regulations.”

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