Journalists protest reporter's jailing in police eavesdropping case
A group of journalists will protest at the court in Rotterdam on Friday against NOS reporter Robert Bas being taken into custody for refusing to testify in an ongoing criminal case and give up his source. "It is very serious that at a time when whistleblowers are being eavesdropped on, journalists are being locked up", the initiators said to RTL Nieuws.
Bas was taken into custody by the court in Rotterdam on Thursday in the case around the mistaken identity murder of mental health institution director Rob Zweekhorst in Berkel en Rodenrijs 2014. Earlier this year it turned out that the authorities listened in on and recorded multiple conversations between Bas and a source. These conversations were added to the criminal file. Based on the recorded conversations, the suspect's lawyer asked that Bas be questioned as a witness. The reporter appealed to his journalistic right of non-disclosure, refusing to give substantive answers to any questions.
According to NOS, he clearly stated that answering could cause a dangerous situation for both himself and his source. He was taken into custody in the hope that he will change his mind about testifying.
At 1:30 p.m. on Friday, the court will decide whether Bas will stay in custody. The journalists will gather at the court from 10:00 a.m. to protest against Bas being held. NRC reporter Marcel Haenen, the initiator behind this protest, told Radio 1 that this is only the second time ever that he is protesting. The first was 20 years ago. "When AD journalist Koen Voskuil was taken into custody. He too refused to respond to questions from the court."
"The custody is a means of forcing people to come to a statement", Voskuil said to NOS. He spent 18 days in custody for refusing to make a statement about a source within the police who gave him information about abuses in a major arms find in Amsterdam. "What a judge is actually asking is: you have to choose between the end of your career or you have to sit for a few days. Well, then just sit for a few days." He calls the detention of Bas "idiotic and absurd".