Amsterdam police investigate leak in case around mayor's son

The Amsterdam police will investigate how information about the arrest of mayor Femke Halsema's 15-year-old son leaked to newspaper De Telegraaf. The investigation will be conducted by the Security, Integrity and Complaints Office of the Amsterdam police unit, AD reports.

The boy's name was shielded almost immediately after his arrest. On Wednesday morning De Telegraaf wrote that he as arrested in July for armed burglary. The newspaper also wrote that "great dissatisfaction" within the police and Public Prosecution office, because the boy's arrest was "hushed up" and kept quiet for weeks. 

The Amsterdam mayor and the lawyer representing her son, Peter Plasman, deny that the boy was arrested for armed burglary. According to them, he and a friend were messing around with fire extinguishers on an abandoned houseboat. They had a fake weapon with them. When the police arrived, the teenagers panicked and fled. Halsema's son was arrested after a foot chase. 

Halsema explicitly denied that she asked the police to keep the matter quiet. "The only thing I hoped was that people would be discreet because my position makes my son vulnerable to publicity that can haunt him for years." She did not ask for his name to be shielded, but was relieved when the police did so, and she learned this often happens with underage suspects, she said in a public letter. "There is no cover-up. This is a private matter, a fifteen-year-old boy whose data would never have been made public in comparable cases", she  said.

The police and Public Prosecution service released a joint statement, also denying any form of cover-up. "The general policy that applies to every fifteen-year-old boy in the Netherlands was applied. Therefore, there is absolutely no question that an arrest was 'hushed up'." 

And Amsterdam police chief Frank Paauw said the same in an internal memo to all Amsterdam police officers, reports. "As chief of police, policeman, colleague, I stand for a neutral and independent police", Paauw wrote. "The way in which the arrest of Mayor Halsema's fifteen-year-old son came out on Wednesday and the suggestion that there would be a cover-up therefore touches me. I do not recognize the image sketched in De Telegraaf."

Paauw wrote that he does not find the accusation of a 'hush up' justified. "The accusation that the police and Public Prosecution service want to conceal this, I reject. If you feel that something is wrong, if something is bothering you, then go to your supervisor, a confidant, or to me personally."

Most parties in the Amsterdam city council agree that this is a private matter, NOS reports. Halsema's own party GroenLinks, D66, VVD, CDA, PvdO and ChristenUnie therefore say that the matter has no political implications for the mayor. Some party leaders added that they did not have to be informed earlier. DENK also called it a private matter, but noted that the matter was given a political charge by Halsema's open letter. Animal party PvdD did not want to respond to the broadcaster. And no one at the PvdA, SP and Bij1 were available for comment.

The Amsterdam faction of populist party FvD believes that the matter cannot entirely be settled as a private matter. "In addition to being a mother, Ms Halsema is also a mayor and in that capacity a political point of contact for the actions of the Amsterdam police. The reports clearly show that there are complaints from the police and judiciary about the improper anonymization of data and the word 'cover up' was also mentioned. Even if not Halsema, but the police made this decision, as mayor she owes the council an explanation", the FvD said in a statement. "We need to be able to discuss this and ask questions. without prejudice, without pointing accusatory fingers and without playing on the person of Ms Halsema or her son."

Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, who used to be an alderman and deputy mayor in Amsterdam, said that politicians and administrators should always be critically followed by the press, but added that the privacy of their loved ones and children must be protected.