Wilders' security officer detained for suspected data leak

AP News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2017 10:37 AM
Wilders' security officer detained for suspected data leak

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch security official responsible for protecting anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders has been detained on suspicion of leaking classified information, a police spokesman said Wednesday, sparking fears for the safety of the far-right populist lawmaker who for years has lived amid tight security.

The extent of the breach and whether it has had any effect on the tight security cordon that constantly surrounds Wilders was not immediately clear, but the leader of the populist Party for Freedom reacted angrily on Twitter.

"If I can't blindly trust the service (DBB) that has to protect me, I can no longer function. This is unacceptable," Wilders said in a tweet directed at Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Wilders has lived for more than a decade under around-the-clock protection and in anonymous safe houses following death threats.

An officer from the DBB security team was detained Monday on suspicion of "sharing classified police information in the private sphere," police spokesman Dennis Janus said. The DBB is responsible for security around top politicians, the Dutch royal family and diplomats based in the Netherlands.

Dutch media reported, citing unnamed sources, that the suspect detained Monday is a police officer with a Moroccan background who had passed on information to a Dutch-Moroccan criminal organization. The story first appeared on the website www.NRC.nl .

In an interview with BNR Nieuwsradio, National Police Chief Erik Akerboom confirmed that the suspect was of Moroccan descent.

Wilders was convicted last year for anti-Moroccan comments and while campaigning just last weekend referred to "Moroccan scum" who commit crimes in the Netherlands.

The revelations came three weeks before the Netherlands holds its March 15 parliamentary election. Wilders' party is riding high in the polls, although mainstream parties have said they will not form a coalition with him if he wins the popular vote because of his hard-line anti-Islam stance. His manifesto includes closing Dutch borders to all migrants from Muslim nations, banning the Quran and shutting all mosques in the Netherlands.

Akerboom told BNR that an investigation was seeking to establish what information was leaked, but said that so far he did not believe that Wilders' safety had been compromised. He said the suspect was not part of the "inner circle" responsible for Wilders.

"Our highest priority is, of course, his security. And we first of all have done everything to ensure that is and remains guaranteed," Akerboom said of Wilders.

Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, and his minister for security and justice on Wednesday visited the heavily-guarded wing of Parliament that houses Wilders' party offices. Rutte declined to discuss the nature of his visit.

Wilders later tweeted that the security breach "is a serious case that fortunately is also being taken seriously by the Cabinet."