Leak sparks security scare for Dutch MP ahead of election

THE HAGUE • A security scare over the safety of outspoken far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders emerged just three weeks before a knife-edge election, after a police agent was arrested for leaking information about him to a Moroccan gang.

Mr Wilders, who has courted controversy with his hardline anti-Islam, anti-immigrant stance and incendiary insults against Moroccans and Turks, has long been under 24-hour police protection.

But tensions are escalating ahead of the March 15 election, in which the MP's Freedom Party is running neck-and-neck with the Liberals of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

On Saturday, Mr Wilders upped the tone at the launch of his official campaign, denouncing "a lot of Moroccan scum who make the streets unsafe".

On Wednesday, he would not divulge more details about the security issue but said on Twitter: "It's a serious matter and, fortunately, it's being taken seriously by the Cabinet too."

National police spokesman Dennis Janus confirmed with Agence France-Presse that an agent, suspected of "violating official secrets", was arrested on Monday.

Citing high-level police sources, the NRC Handelsblad daily reported that an agent had handed over information about Mr Wilders' movements to a Moroccan-Dutch criminal organisation.

The leak was serious enough to trigger talks between Mr Wilders and his political foe Rutte, who also refused to comment to reporters afterwards.

The unnamed agent is part of the so-called "Iris team", a police squad which carries out preliminary sweeps of public spaces before appearances by politicians such as Mr Wilders or the Dutch royal family, De Telegraaf daily reported.

It was not immediately clear whether the agent was directly involved in Mr Wilders' personal protection.

Dutch police chief Erik Akkerboom said the agent was of Moroccan background.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Leak sparks security scare for Dutch MP ahead of election'. Print Edition | Subscribe