Journalist under threat led to A2 shutdown, tightened security
A suspicious and threatening situation on the A2 near Amsterdam led to the highway's one-hour closure about 25 kilometers further south from 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Dutch crime journalist John van den Heuvel, who has been under police protection for some time, was driving on the expressway when others appeared to chase him, an anonymous police source told newspaper AD.
The chase vehicles included an Audi and several motorcycles. The Audi was brought to a halt by a special unit of the police, but those on motorcycles managed to elude authorities at high speed. One person was arrested when the Audi was stopped.
"It is true that there was an incident around Amsterdam this afternoon, in which my security officers followed a precautionary protocol and extra security measures were taken," Van den Heuvel told AD and ANP when asked about the incident. "The police are investigating the incident and I have every confidence that this is being done properly.”
The journalist was then whisked away to the police headquarters in Driebergen, about 20 kilometers from where the Audi was stopped. The A2 was closed in both directions in the area, and a massive police force took position outside of the headquarters building. A police helicopter circled the area for over an hour.
The Driebergen building is headquarters for the national unit of the Dutch police, including the DSI officers which handles incidents related to terrorist attacks, immediate security concerns, and criminal activity where tactical support teams are required. "That was the closest safe place at the time," Van den Heuvel told AD.
Six months ago, Dutch investigative reporter Peter R. de Vries was assassinated in Amsterdam after walking out of a television studio in the city center. Prosecutors believe he was targeted for assisting the key witness testifying against alleged crime boss Ridouan Taghi in a case related to multiple homicides and murder plots. In October, police chief Frank Paauw said that similar attacks were likely in the future.
Questions about whether adequate steps were taken to protect De Vries were under investigation by the Dutch Safety Board.