Unlikely 29 telecom mast arsons were a coordinated attack: Officials

Fire department in Haaglanden
A fire department commanding officer's vehicle in the Haaglanden region. June 7, 2019cakifotoDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

The 29 telecommunications mast fires, all intentionally set since April, are not believed to be linked to the same criminal suspects, according to the police and the Public Prosecution Service (OM). The authorities also do not think the suspects were connected to one another or that they were organized by a single criminal group.

The OM would not confirm that the fires were the result of conspiracy theories about the 5G wireless technology, which has been mentioned as a possible rationale several times by investigators. One fire knocked out a 5G transmission mast, while the others affected emergency services communications, 2G, 3G and 4G service. "No statements can be made about suspects' motives as long as investigations are in progress," the OM said.

"The police and the Public Prosecution Service have investigated various scenarios, including the scenario of an organized collaboration between suspects," the OM said. All but one case was being handled at the local or regional level because they were essentially isolated incidents.

Of the six male suspects arrested by police, four were released from pre-trial detention. The four include two brothers, 24 and 30, from Swifterbant who said they were innocent, a 23-year-old from Dronten and a 34-year-old from Groningen.

A Veldhoven man, 30, was still in custody for two arsons in his hometown. A 32-year-old from Beringe was recently brought in over a fire in Maasbree.

"In all cases, it is investigated whether suspects were involved in more fires in cell towers," the OM said.

The prosecution service stressed the value of good connectivity, and noted how the destruction of a mast can endanger lives by causing diminished communications. "This could include loss of communication with hospitals or care homes, for example," the OM said.