Newspaper reporter covering Extinction Rebellion arrested on obstruction, insult charges
Update, 21:18 on 11 October 2021: Mac Van Dinther was released from custody, but the charges against him were not dropped. He was incarcerated from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Police arrested a reporter from the Volkskrant during Monday's Extinction Rebellion protest in The Hague. He was accused of obstructing officers and insulting them. The case regarding the journalist, Mac van Dinther, will be reviewed. It will then become clear whether he will be released from custody, or remain in detention.
The arrest was the subject of a complaint the Volkskrant made to the police, according to Van Dinther's supervisor, Eelco Meuleman. "He is still in custody, officially on suspicion of insulting an officer," he said. Meuleman briefly spoke to Van Dinther. "He was allowed to make one phone call. He said he was being treated like a serious criminal."
Van Dinther told his supervisor that he was pushed aside by the police during the Extinction Rebellion protest and that he was ordered to move a greater distance away from the area. "He did not think that was the right thing to do. He wanted to be closer to the group of activists to witness what was happening," Meuleman said. The police then have claimed that he was hindering them, a reaction Van Dinther described as "childish."
"Apparently, that was enough to push him into the police van."
Referencing the police press card hanging around his neck, Van Dinther pointed out the fact that he is a journalist. "The officer responded with, 'Anyone can say he is a journalist.'" A lawyer for the Volkskrant will insist on the reporter's release, "but for now he is in jail."
"We are very concerned about the harshness with which the police have acted against our journalist," said Pieter Klok, the editor-in-chief at the Volkskrant. "There must be very serious reasons to restrict journalists in this way from exercising their freedom to gather news, and especially to arrest them. I cannot imagine that this was the case in this situation."
Van Dinther wrote on Twitter that he was "forcibly dragged into a police van" because he was "too close." Meuleman maintained contact with Van Dinther all day but could not reach him after the message appeared on Twitter. Meuleman then complained to the police about the journalist's arrest. Van Dinther also posted an unfinished tweet from the police station. Meuleman suspects that the telephone was then "pulled out of his hands."
Ik zit op het politiebureau als arrestant zogenaamd omdat ik de politie be— Mac van Dinther (@MacvanDinther) October 11, 2021
The Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) will also contact the police to ask for clarification, according to general secretary Thomas Bruning. "Usually, it is then resolved quickly."
On Monday afternoon, police put an end to the blockades created by Extinction Rebellion protestors, including at an intersection near the temporary building of the Tweede Kamer. More than ten demonstrators were arrested there and at the Koningstunnel next to Central Station in The Hague, as well as in other places.
Extinction Rebellion said that 700 people took part in the protests.
Reporting by ANP