Amsterdam man arrested on report he wanted to have PM Mark Rutte killed
This story was updated with additional information.
A man was placed in custody Friday evening in Amsterdam on suspicion of plotting the assassination of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. A police spokesperson contacted on Sunday confirmed the arrest after the incident was reported by NOS and De Telegraaf. The man has since been released from detention, but he remains a suspect in the case.
Earlier on Sunday, De Telegraaf reported that the 61-year-old man from Amsterdam had been arrested on allegations that he planned an attack against the Dutch political leader. A representative of the Amsterdam police initially said she believed he was cleared of the allegations made against him.
She said police “responded quickly” after authorities received a report. A preliminary investigation suggested that the report was incorrect. She was unable to provide more details about the case, and could not confirm if the man remained in custody, or if he was suspected of other criminal activity.
According to De Telegraaf, it is a 61-year-old man from Amsterdam named Gerrit M. The detectives tracked him down through audio recordings of a conversation between him and a second, unknown person. During the conversation, the man explicitly spoke of his plans to have the prime minister killed during that conversation, the newspaper reported.
Telegraaf quoted M., claiming he made a violent threat during the phone call. "I want to kill this man. Someone has to put a firearm in his mouth and then shoot. They have to kill him, he has to go. He is at the top of the list to be killed," he allegedly said during the call.
He was arrested in his home on Westlandgracht in the capital. He is said to have come into contact with the police frequently in the past. "We expect to be able to say more on Monday," a spokesperson told the newspaper.
The Dutch prime minister has been a frequent target of threats. In January, a 52-year-old man from Duizel, Noord-Brabant was arrested for posting inflammatory messages threatening Rutte on Twitter. Then in July, a 52-year-old man from Uden, Noord-Brabant was arrested on multiple charges, including threatening the prime minister and suspicion of inciting violence.
Rutte’s security was also beefed up last year when a plot emerged calling for the prime minister to be attacked or kidnapped. His additional security has remained in place since then.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times