Telegram channels tied to conspiracy theorists taken down for threats to officials
Police in the Netherlands forced the closure of two channels on instant messaging service Telegram, because of threats made and alleged attempts to incite violence against public authorities. Over 13,000 members subscribed to the two channels, Bataafse Republiek and Bataafs Nieuws.
RIVM director Jaap van Dissel was one of those reportedly threatened in the group chats. Personal details of people connected to the Covid-19 vaccination program were shared in the group.
"The channels have been featured in criminal investigations for some time now. Since last May, several suspects have been convicted for posting threats, inflammatory and defamatory messages, or referencing other channels which shared criminal content," the Public Prosecution Service said.
Three known conspiracy theorists established the channels. Micha Kat, Joost Knevel, and Wouter Raatgever allegedly spread their belief that children were ritually slaughtered in Bodegraven, a town in Zuid-Holland. They also shared details about unproven allegations about pedophile networks in the country.
Kat was arrested in Northern Ireland and is fighting extradition to the Netherlands. Knevel and Raatgever were remanded into pretrial custody in the Netherlands and face another court hearing in six weeks.
A third channel that was featured by Bataafse Republiek and Bataafs Nieuws was voluntarily taken down by its administrators, the OM said.
Reporting by ANP