Theo van Gogh murder: Censored wiretap transcripts could be released in national security case
Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs must reconsider her decision not to give a journalist access to tapped conversations around the murder of Theo van Gogh and the Hofstad group, the group to which Van Gogh's murderer Mohammed B. belonged, the Council of State ruled on Wednesday. According to the court, the Minister's explanation for why these conversations can not be released was not sufficiently substantiated.
Journalist Peter Wierenga is investigating Van Gogh's murder. He requested information on whether B. acted alone or had accomplices. He also wants to know wether general intelligence and security service AIVD had any signals that the murder was imminent.
As the AIVD falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs, the request went to Ollongren. She denied the request, giving a general explanation that providing this information would endanger national security, even after the Council of State asked for clarification. "Such a general and unclear explanation is not sufficient", the administrative court said.
The Council of State was allowed, with permission, to inspect AIVD documents around the Hofstad group and Van Gogh's murder and agrees that some of the secret documents may be a threat to national security if made public. However, the court also said that it has doubts about whether it has all the reports of tapped conversations, "even though the Minister said that everything from the AIVD archive has been submitted", the Council of State said. "For now the administrative court is not convinced that there is not more from before the murder."
The Council of State ordered Minister Ollongren to reconsider releasing the documents to the journalist. If she again decides against it, she must better substantiate why. The court also instructed the Minister to again investigate whether there are any more reports on tapped conversations around the Van Gogh case. "If the reports existed but are no longer do, the the Minister must make clear why the reports are no longer there."
Van Gogh was killed on an Amsterdam street in 2004. He was shot and stabbed. Mohammed B. was sentenced to life in prison for the murder.