Arrest made in hack of Dutch politician’s Twitter account; Geert Wilders likely victim
Police in Nijmegen arrested a 22-year-old man on Wednesday in connection with the 2020 hack of a politician’s social media account. Geert Wilders, the leader of the far-right political party PVV, said the arrest was related to the unauthorized takeover of his Twitter account which was reported on the same day a group of hackers took over many top Twitter accounts as part of a significant cryptocurrency scam.
Police did not confirm Wilders’ claim that it was related to his case. Authorities said a case was launched after a Dutch member of parliament filed a report. “After an extensive and intensive investigation and cooperation with the American authorities, this 22-year-old man came into the picture. The man is suspected of having gained access to the account and/or of having taken over the user’s account details,” police said.
“Good thing he was tracked down and arrested two years after I reported it,” Wilders said. “It is incomprehensible that he was sent away after interrogation - even though he remains a suspect.”
On 16 July 2020, scammers managed to take controle of several high profile Twitter accounts, including Joe Biden’s during his presidential campaign, and the accounts used by Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Michael Bloomberg. They then published messages, like, “I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes. Enjoy!"
The same day, the primary account used by Geert Wilders was also taken over. His profile photo was replaced by a racist caricature of a Black man, and the account was used to retweet conspiracy theories.
Although what happened to Wilders diverged from the cryptocurrency scam, Twitter included it in its report on the security breach. It said that dozens of accounts were accessed during the hack “including 1 elected official in the Netherlands.” Wilders was the only Dutch politician involved in the incident. Hackers targeted 130 accounts, posted tweets on 45 of them, and accessed the direct messages inbox of 36 users. The hackers also downloaded the “Your Twitter Data” archive of eight accounts.
Such a hack is a criminal offense in the Netherlands when it happens without consent. The aim of the hacker is to take over the computer or account or to steal data or make it unusable. Wilders likened the hack to a case of breaking and entering, and said it “deserves a severe punishment.”