Wilders' lawyer demands delay, threatens paper over leaked docs

no image
No image availableNL Times

Geert Wilders' lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops called the leak of a legal brief outlining his defense plans "an attack on the process and on Wilders' freedom", during a pre-trial hearing in the hate speech trial against the PVV leader on Friday. Knoops demanded that the trial be called off until the leak was thoroughly investigated, according to newspaper AD's live blog on the hearing.

Wilders is facing charges of discrimination and incitement of hatred against a group of people based on their race, in this case Moroccans. This is about statements he made during an election campaign in The Hague in 2014. On March 12th of that year he said that The Hague should become “a city with fewer burdens and if possible fewer Moroccans“. On March 19th he asked a cafe full of people if the want “more or fewer Moroccans”.

The leaked legal brief outlined Knoops' plan to defend Wilders in the trial. An AD journalist informed him that the document was in the hands of the newspaper on Thursday night. According to him, he only got about an hour's sleep after that.

Knoops believes that the leak "will have consequences for the further course of the process". He can not defend Wilders like this. "We don't know if other confidential documents ended up in the hands of third parties", he said to the court. He wants the leak investigated and the case to be halted until the results are known. He is also considering pressing charges against the newspaper.

The lawyer firmly denied that the request to halt the trial is stalling. "A this time, any continuation of the criminal proceedings is a threat to the defense and privacy of Geert Wilders", Knoops said. "It harms the defense, and we have no interest in that."

The lawyer agreed to go through his 100 page legal brief on Friday. According to Knoops, this case is an attack on Wilders' freedom of speech, which is the last freedom he still has. The lawyer claimed that Wilders "spoke within the boundaries of the law" and represented a part of the population. "A politician should not be punished for that." It was not hate speech, but political speech in the context of an election, according to him.

Knoops also advocated for the importance of having several witnesses testify in this case. He wanted 39 witnesses, the court only approved six - not enough for his defense the lawyer feels.

The lawyer wants American expert Amos Guiora to testify on the definition "intolerance" and what case law says about it. Knoops is insisting on the American expert, because there are too few independent experts in the Netherlands, he believes.

He also wants National Coordinator for Counterterrorism Dick Schoof to testify, because he can clarify what type of people travel to Syria to join ISIS and how Dutch Moroccans are represented in terrorist and criminal organizations. This information will help give context to Wilders' "fewer Moroccans" statements.