Officer in unit that protects Wilders held in leak investigation

Far-right Dutch Freedom Party leader describes security breach as ‘serious’

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders: is accompanied at all times by six plainclothes officers, lives in a “safe house” paid for by the state, wears a bullet-proof vest and is driven to and from work by armoured police vehicle. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders: is accompanied at all times by six plainclothes officers, lives in a “safe house” paid for by the state, wears a bullet-proof vest and is driven to and from work by armoured police vehicle. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty

 

Three weeks from the general election in the Netherlands, a police officer whose unit is responsible for the personal protection of individuals including far-right leader Geert Wilders and members of the royal family, has been arrested on suspicion of leaking classified information.

Although there’s no indication any potential breach related to Mr Wilders specifically, both prime minister Mark Rutte and justice minister Stef Blok had a highly unusual, unscheduled, face-to-face meeting with him at his offices on Wednesday to discuss his security.

After the meeting, Mr Wilders – who had earlier tweeted that he “could no longer function” if he could not trust his personal protection team – said in uncharacteristically placatory fashion that the breach was “a serious case that is, fortunately, also being taken seriously by the cabinet”.

The Freedom Party leader, who lives under 24-hour police guard, was convicted last year of incitement to discrimination for anti-Moroccan comments, which he echoed at the start of his election campaign when he promised to crack down on “Moroccan scum” responsible for crime.

Although there’s no indication that it’s anything but coincidence, it’s understood the officer who was arrested on Monday is of Moroccan origin and is alleged to have leaked information to a Dutch-Moroccan gang usually involved in money-laundering and trafficking of stolen goods.

The man’s rank has not been revealed, but he is described as “an experienced policeman” with the diplomatic protection squad, DBB, whose job involved making risk assessments of locations due to be visited by people accompanied by specialist police protection officers.

Classified information

That gave him a relatively rare operational overview and access to “highly confidential” databases containing classified information.

Mr Wilders has lived under round-the-clock guard since 2004 when two men carrying three hand grenades were arrested after a siege in The Hague and accused of planning to murder him and a fellow MP, Somali-born writer Aayan Hirsi Ali, who now lives in the US.

He is accompanied at all times by six plainclothes officers, lives in a “safe house” paid for by the state, wears a bullet-proof vest and is driven to and from work by armoured police vehicle. His parliamentary office is accessible only along a long corridor designed to make it easier to defend.

He is allegedly on an al-Qaeda death list and his personal security hit the headlines in 2010 when a young female journalist spent four months working alongside him as an intern before revealing her true identity in an article which began, “I could have killed him . . .””

Two years later, Mr Wilders published a book entitled, Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me, placing himself in the outspoken tradition of Pim Fortuyn, assassinated in 2002, and film director, Theo van Gogh, shot and stabbed to death two years later.

Responding to the officer’s arrest, police chief Erik Akerboom said there was as yet “no evidence that anyone’s security has been compromised”, apparently confirming the view that no new precautions needed to be taken.