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Belgium seeks answers from Britain over telecom spying

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium has asked Britain to respond to allegations that its intelligence service hacked into the IT network of Belgian telecoms provider Belgacom.

Federal prosecutors said in September they were investigating suspected foreign state espionage against Belgacom, the dominant telecoms provider in Belgium and also a top carrier of voice traffic in Africa and the Middle East.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported later that the British electronic surveillance agency GCHQ had placed a virus in Belgacom's network.

"Following the article in Der Spiegel the government asked Belgian intelligence services to ask their British colleagues for more information," a source close to the government said.

A GCHQ spokeswoman said: "We are not making any comment."

Belgacom said at a hearing before the European Parliament on Thursday evening that it had removed the virus from its systems and that an investigation into who was responsible was ongoing.

A representative of GCHQ was scheduled to speak at the same hearing but did not appear.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, additional reporting by Claire Davenport and Peter Griffiths; editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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