RTL Boulevard broadcast canceled over fear for rocket launcher attack: report
The broadcast of RTL Boulevard was canceled on Sunday evening because authorities feared an attack with a rocket launcher or with automatic firearms on the program's studio on Leidseplein in Amsterdam, sources within the investigative authorities told NRC.
The police recently intercepted messages from criminals discussing how the studio would be attacked, the sources said. According to the newspaper, there is discontent in the underworld about the media linking Tuesday's attack on crime writer Peter R. de Vries with him acting as confidant for Nabil B., a key witness in the Marengo process that linked main suspect Ridouan Taghi to multiple assassinations.
The Amsterdam municipality and police refused to comment to NRC on the background or content of the serious threat they reported to RTL on Saturday.
Peter R. de Vries was shot multiple times at close range on Lange Leidsedwarsstraat in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening, minutes after he left the RTL Boulevard studio where he was a guest that evening. He is still in critical condition in hospital.
De Vries has been acting as confidant for Nabil B. since the spring of 2020. Last week, De Telegraaf reported that one of the two suspects in custody for De Vries' shooting, Delano G., was the cousin on a known associate of Taghi. The same newspaper wrote that Taghi was offering large amounts of money for help escaping from the high security prison in Vught.
RTL decided to cancel Sunday evening's RTL Boulevard broadcast on Sunday afternoon. The broadcaster said that extra security measures made broadcasting from the studio possible, but it decided to give the Boulevard team a break. On Sunday evening, RTL broadcast Wednesday's episode of RTL Boulevard instead of a new episode. That episode was a tribute to De Vries.
Caretaker Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security called the decision to cancel the broadcast "drastic and intense".
Nabil B.'s lawyer Peter Schouten criticized the "bomb threat mentality" in which editors need to be evacuated, writing on Twitter. He called for a fallback option where "threatened programs" can still be broadcast.
This is not the first time that a rocket launcher is aimed at Dutch media. In 2018, an anti-tank weapon was fired at the building that houses magazine Panorama. The attack was traced back to members of outlaw motorcycle gang Caloh Wagoh.