The Belgian prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
A European official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the delicacy of the matter, identified the key topic of the investigation as a former German career diplomat, confirming details published for the first time in the German magazine Der Spiegel.
During his long career, the former diplomat held high positions in several European institutions, including the European Commission and the European External Action Service, the diplomatic and defense service of the European Union. It served as a U.S. Ambassador to Asia before leaving diplomacy in 2017 to join a lobbying firm.
The other two suspects work for a separate lobbying firm, according to German press reports.
Virginie Battu-Henriksson, EU spokesperson. diplomatic service said he was aware of media reports, but could not comment on an “ongoing investigation” by the German authorities.
“Of course, we are always willing to cooperate with national authorities,” Battu-Henriksson said. She said that no European Union buildings had been raided and that the German authorities had not been in contact regarding the investigation.
The research occurs at a time of greater European concern about the expansion of Chinese spy networks in Europe. European countries have also been pressured by the Trump administration not to use the services of Chinese technology giant Huawei while deploying its 5G networks on the continent, amid security concerns.
It was reported that European Union officials received internal warnings about the proliferation of Russian and Chinese spies near their Brussels offices last year.
The European diplomatic service has taken “protective measures” against hostile intelligence agencies, Battu-Henriksson said. Those include ensuring that staff receive adequate information on how to deal with “human” and cyber threats, he said.
Aries reported from Brussels. Luisa Beck in Berlin contributed to this report.