Van attack on Netherlands newspaper office is 'slap in the face of free press', says Dutch PM - Press Gazette

Van attack on Netherlands newspaper office is 'slap in the face of free press', says Dutch PM

The Dutch Prime Minister has described a “targeted” attack on a major daily newspaper’s headquarters in Amsterdam, in which a van crashed into offices, as a “slap in the face of the free press”.

The attack on De Telegraaf ’s office, situated on the outskirts of the capital city, took place at 4am on Tuesday morning. Dutch police have said it was deliberate.

The van caught fire as it crashed into the building, with De Telegraaf itself reporting that the flames reached 14 metres in height.

The building was mostly empty at the time of the attack, with reports that only a security guard was present who was uninjured.

Paul Jansen, editor-in-chief of De Telegraaf, said: “Everything points to an attack, we will not be intimidated.” He added: “It is clear that we don’t have friends everywhere.”

De Telegraaf crime journalist Mick van Wely said on Twitter: “As our editor-in-chief says: we do not let ourselves be intimidated. So we continue to write. Now extra motivated.”

De Telegraaf (The Telegraph) is the largest morning daily in the Netherlands and is owned by the Belgian media group Telegraaf Media Groep.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte said on Twitter: “The targeted action against the Telegraph is a slap in the face of the free press and the Dutch democracy.”

He has also said that the circumstances of the attack remain unclear, adding: “We are alert and police are doing everything they can to catch the perpetrator(s).”

A statement from Amsterdam police reads: “Around 4 o’clock in the Basisweg a white Volkswagen Caddy was driven into the facade of a publishing house. After this, a fire started.”

They believe the driver of the van fled in an Audi and have called on witnesses to come forward.

It comes days after a rocket launcher was fired at the office of magazine publisher Pijper Media, which publishes magazines including Lonely Planet, Grazia, Marie Claire and Panorama, in the same part of Amsterdam.

No one was injured in the attack, which happened at 11pm on 21 June. A 41-year-old man has been arrested.

Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of the EU-Balkans desk at Reporters Without Borders, said: “We condemn all violence designed to intimidate journalists and media outlets whose reporting annoys people.

“We call on the Dutch authorities to investigate these attacks thoroughly with the aim of bringing those responsible to justice, and to provide appropriate protection to journalists who put themselves in danger by doing investigative reporting.”

Picture: Netherlands Police