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Belgian Transport Minister Resigns Over Brussels Airport Security Dispute

Jacqueline Galant, who resigned as Belgium's transport minister on Friday, says she is the victim of a crusade against her.
Dirk Waem
AFP/Getty Images
Jacqueline Galant, who resigned as Belgium's transport minister on Friday, says she is the victim of a crusade against her.

Belgian Transport Minister Jacqueline Galant resigned Friday, after enduring days of criticism that became more pointed after a European Commission report from last year — finding flaws in Belgian airport security — was leaked.

Galant's resignation comes a little more than three weeks after suicide bombers struck the Zaventem airport in Brussels, in a deadly attack that also included a coordinated strike at a metro station. This week, she has been accused of failing to act on the 2015 security report and of refusing to fund stronger inspections.

A scandal is now boiling over how Galant handled security concerns and what she told Prime Minister Charles Michel about the European report — one of several documents that were recently leaked by federal workers and members of an opposition political party.

From Brussels, Teri Schultz reports for our Newscast unit:

"Galant says she quit as transport minister because there had been a destructive 'crusade' against her inside her administration. Opposition politicians and members of her own staff have been releasing documents showing she received a critical European Union audit alleging 'serious deficiencies' at the Brussels airport.

"Galant had told Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel she had not seen such a review, and that's what he told Parliament yesterday. Announcing Galant's departure, Michel was clearly displeased.

" 'It is unacceptable,' Michel says, that he was not informed of the June 2015 critique that said there were 'serious deficiencies' in airport security. A member of Galant's own staff warned her in a leaked memo even earlier that there were what he called 'well-known jihadists' with airport access passes."

Discussing her resignation Friday, Galant — facing the media as she sat alone at a long table — said, "The orchestrated and theatrical confusion of the last 48 hours prevents me from continuing with serenity in accomplishing my tasks."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.