Russian hacking fears: Deputy PM refused mobile phone calls after MH17 crash

Lodewijk Asscher (Photo: Commons). (Lodewijk Asscher (Photo: Commons))

Out of fear of being eavesdropped on, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher did not dare to call Prime Minister Mark Rutte from his cellphone after flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014, Asscher said on television program Jinek. 

The Deputy Prime Minister was on holiday in France at the time. Instead of calling the Prime Minister from his mobile phone, he knocked on the door of a neighbor and asked if he could use her landline. "I had to talk to the Prime Minster in The Hague. That you don't do with your mobile. These discussioins might be of interest to Russians or others."

He explained that he was not only a tourist, "but also deputy prime minister and that something terrible was happening in my country", he said on Jinek. "After she was over her astonishment", she allowed him to use the phone.

Asscher told this story to stress to politicians how vulnerable their communications are. On Thursday RTL Nieuws managed to break into the social media accounts of various politicians, using passwords that leaked in previous data breaches. Following this Khadija Arib, president of the Dutch lower house of parliament, called in a team of experts to help parliamentarians make sure their social media accounts are secure.