The European Microscope for Middle East Issues revealed an investigation into materials published by the chief investigative reporter in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir regarding the issue of what is known as the European corruption scandal, finding that it is misleading and includes severe professional errors.
The European Microscope stated that the Le Soir newspaper’s investigation included a picture of a bag that was claimed to be of Qatari money used in the corruption case, but after examining the images, it became clear that it was a picture of an envelope bearing the Emirates Red Crescent logo.
The examination results showed that the journalist prepared for verification resorted to publishing a picture of a bag to suggest that it was coming from the Qatari Red Crescent, relying on the Crescent logo, which is present in both logos the Emirates and Qatar Red Crescents alike.
It turned out that the photo published by the main investigator of the newspaper was the same one who appears to have played a prominent role in feeding the Belgian authorities information on the case.
Why Emirates Red Crescent?
The journalist preparing the investigation published the photo of the money allegedly used in bribes on his Twitter account, attached to a report by the newspaper to suggest that it is a picture of funds for the Qatari Crescent. However, he deliberately did not show it in high quality, noting that the photo was published without a declared or reliable source.
The European Microscope confirmed that this raises significant doubts about the credibility of the investigation, the newspaper, and who is behind those responsible for publishing it.
The investigation was titled Espionage, Briefcases and Secret Meetings. Its publication came about a month after Belgian media accused Qatar of paying bribes and giving gifts to members of the European Parliament.
The newspaper published in its printed version the text of the investigation, along with a picture of the sums of money that it claimed were used to provide bribes, with reference to the Red Crescent logo to suggest that they are Qatari money.
The newspaper claimed that the investigation began in September 2022 and relied on testimonies and internal documents. However, the Belgian Public Prosecution Office announced the case in early December without directing an explicit accusation against the State of Qatar but merely mentioned the involvement of a Gulf state.
The corruption scandal in the European Parliament witnessed the manipulation of investigations and the publication of false and inaccurate records to intimidate the media and distort the course of facts.
The European Microscope said that the announcement by the Public Prosecutor in Belgium of opening a special investigation into the press leaks regarding the developments of the corruption case within the European Parliament showed the severity of the influence of external parties to manipulate the file.
The European microscope indicated that the media leaks, which included accusations to both the State of Qatar and Morocco of providing gifts and sums of money to members of the European Parliament, entered into a clear stage of trolling and demonization without evidence and anticipating the results of the investigations to emerge.
Exaggeration, no facts and no evidence
European circles raised questions about the parties benefiting from deliberately exaggerating the developments of the investigations and targeting Qatar while ignoring other countries accused in the case. However, the investigations refer to countries such as Morocco and Mauritania.
For their part, the lawyers of the representatives accused of corruption confirmed the significant procedural errors in the investigations. They insistently pleaded for their client’s innocence, especially the Greek representative, Eva Kaili.
The Belgian Public Prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation into the press leaks in the context of what was known as the corruption scandal in the European Parliament. Charges were filed against the State of Qatar.
Since the case was revealed, Belgian officials confirmed that the press leaks carried many errors and rumours and threatened the course and integrity of the judicial investigations in the file framework.
They stressed the need to be professional in all press leaks related to the European Parliament and scrutinize the possibility of interference by countries and organizations to influence the issue negatively.
A member of the European Parliament, Andrea Cozzolino, has previously called on European Union leaders, from Roberta Metsola to Charles Michel, to take stronger measures to “confront malicious actors” who conspire through corruption.
The French newspaper L’Express quoted Belgian and Italian media as saying that Kylie, the former vice-president of the European Parliament, partially admitted, in the context of the investigation, accusations of corruption to some members of the European Parliament.
Francesco Giorgi, the parliamentary aide and friend of Cayley, also acknowledged his influence, along with others, on the work of his parliamentary group to highlight the impact of countries in the Middle East, especially Morocco, within Parliament.
Eva Kaili, a member of the centre-left Greek party PASOK-KIBNAL, was arrested on December 9 and placed in pre-trial detention in a Belgian prison.
She denounced Qatar, which refuses to accuse it of providing “gifts” in order to represent its interests, stressing that this will have a “negative effect on regional and global cooperation in security affairs,” without forgetting to mention the sensitive issue of energy.
Morocco also denied the accusations against the country regarding the corruption issue, stressing that it deals with pressure lobbies and not criminal organizations.
In an indication of settling scores for political purposes, the former Greek commissioner to the European Union, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said that some parties are trying to implicate him in the corruption scandal within the European Parliament to keep him away from the selection process for the next European Union special representative for relations with the Gulf states.
Avramopoulos was Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship between 2014 and 2019 and a member of the NGO Fight Against Impunity advisory board linked to Antonio Panziri, who was arrested for his involvement in corruption allegations.