Anti-left wing surveillance claim leads to fourth harassment report
On Monday, writer Aafke Romeijn became the fourth person to file harassment charges against anti-left wing action platform Vizier Op Links, she confirmed to NU.nl. She was preceded by historian Nadia Bouras and GroenLinks politician Huub Bellemakers, who found Vizier Op Links stickers on their homes claiming that the location was being watched. Political advisor Paul van den Berg also pressed charges against the platform, NU.nl reports.
Vizier Op Links has a website and is active on social media. The platform's stated goal is to break the "left hegemony", by "mapping left-wing networks" with the use of tips. Who is behind the platform is unclear. The website states that "the activist left has nestled in the capillaries of our system: media, education, justice, government and business."
Last week, Romeijn told newspaper AD that she decided to take a break from Twitter after years of harassment. After speaking to AD, she found out that Vizier Op Links had placed her name and address on Telegram chat groups, after which she faced a wave of threats, she said to NU.nl. That is why she decided to press charges on Monday, she said.
Political advisor Van den Berg went to the police in February. After he was mentioned by Vizier Op Links, an army of trolls came into action and published his address with a photo of his house, had packages delivered to his home, and enrolled him in a course using the address of his kids' school. "It was reason enough for me to report it the police," he said to NU.nl.
Artist Yuri Veerman also found a Vizier Op Links sticker on his front door on Sunday. Veerman's home and work addresses had already been made public online. After the sticker, he decided he will also go to the police. "It is very important that attention is now focused on Vizier Op Links and what they're doing," Veerman said.
Isa Yusibov, a political analyst and a former D66 candidate for the European Parliament, tried to find out who was behind Vizier Op Links last year. In retaliation, his address was put online. He went to the police, but was advised against pressing charges because what Vizier Op Links did was "difficult to prosecute", Yusibov said to NU.nl.
The association of Dutch universities VSNU called it "unacceptable and reprehensible" that people were being harassed at their homes by Vizier Op Links. Bouras is an assistant professor in Leiden. According to VSNU chairman Pieter Duisenberg, this is a far-reaching violation of freedom, privacy, and sense of security.
"Scientists must be able to conduct their research safely and freely and publish their findings. The intimidation and threat of our people is an outright attack on academic freedom and on freedom of expression." said Duisenberg. "By encouraging these kinds of actions, Vizier op Links threatens core values of our open society. As an academic world, we are committed to protecting and supporting our scientists. These kinds of actions must stop immediately."