Almelo man convicted for violent threats against NOS journalists over Covid coverage
A 37-year-old man from Almelo was convicted and sentenced to 70 hours of community service for threatening employees of broadcaster NOS. The man was accused of making angry, violent threats to employees via telephone, accusing NOS of conspiracy and treason.
The man called NOS dozens of times on January 7. The prosecution service wrote in a statement, “He mentioned conspiracy theories, accused the NOS of lying and protecting pedophiles and compared the broadcaster to the SS. ‘Everyone at the NOS must be beheaded,’ he said. ‘It must be a bloodbath, violence is the solution, then coronavirus will be over immediately.’ He also threatened to come to Hilversum.” The broadcaster is based in the Noord-Holland city.
"I hope they cut all of your throats for treason. They should finish you off piece by piece," the man reportedly said during one phone call.
His defense attorney said the comments were not threats, but were vulgarities that should not have been taken seriously. The defense attorney asked for an acquittal, saying that his client had expressed some "very nasty curses", but according to him, there was no real threat.
Prosecutors acknowledged that the man has a troubled background thrown into disarray after losing his work. The son of a friend has faced delays for medical care due to the pandemic, adding to his emotional stress. This led him to begin spending more time on the internet, reading conspiracy theories about coronavirus, lockdown restrictions, and elections in the United States last year.
“This led to negative feelings of injustice and powerlessness,” the prosecutor said. The suspect has been getting coaching in his personal life, and more professional guidance. “The suspect recognized what he had done and regretted it.”
Prosecutors weighed that in requesting community service and a short suspended prison sentence. “You can have an opinion, but you can't scare people. The suspect has gone too far in this,” she said in closing.
The man was previously convicted and given a 40-hour community service sentence for insulting an official who confronted him about not wearing a face mask at a location where that was obligatory. That sentence was suspended, but the new convictions means he has to serve the additional time as well.
The convicted man said he will appeal against the verdict.