The gunning down on Tuesday evening on a street in Amsterdam of Dutch investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries shocked The Netherlands and was seen as an attack against independent journalism and media freedom.
The journalist was severely wounded and is fighting for his life. He had been investigating organised crime and received death threats. Suspected perpetrators linked to a crime organisation have been arrested.
The attack was widely condemned. The Slovenia EU Presidency tweeted yesterday that it condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms. “Free and independent press is essential for our society our society and European way of life.
We condemn the attack on Peter R. de Vries in strongest possible terms. Our thoughts and prayers at this critical time are with Mr. de Vries and his family. Free and independent press is essential for our society and European way of life. Perpetrators must be brought to justice. pic.twitter.com/bDE2UtBxFg
— EU2021SI (@EU2021SI) July 7, 2021
The attack also resulted in a tweet from the Slovenian interior minister Aleš Hojs, himself a journalist and former minister of defence in his country, who currently is chairing the Justice and Home Affairs Council. While also condemning the “horrible and reprehensible act”, he added a remark directed to the Dutch Commissioner Frans Timmermans, saying that his country had to clean its house.
V Amsterdamu ustrelili nizozemskega preiskovalnega novnarja. Grozljivo in zavržno dejanje,ki ga najostreje obsojam. @TimmermansEU bo moral začeti pometati pred domačim pragom. https://t.co/VVbIWg4BYw
— Aleš Hojs (@aleshojs) July 6, 2021
(Google Translate: A Dutch investigative journalist was shot dead in Amsterdam. A horrible and reprehensible act that I strongly condemn. The @TimmermansEU will have to start sweeping in front of the home threshold.)
The tweet follows the scandal at the start of the Slovenia EU Presidency which sparked a minor diplomatic row over issues of the rule of law and press freedom in Slovenia. At a meeting with the College of the European Commission, a remark by Slovenia’s Prime-Minister prompted Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans to refuse to take part in the famed “family photo”.
“I simply could not be on the same podium with PM Janša after his unacceptable attack on and defamation of two judges and two S&D MEPs,” a statement from Timmerman read after the event. He did not reply immediately to a request for a comment to the tweet.
“It’s telling that the interior minister used the attack against a Dutch journalist gunned down by organised crime to launch an attack on a member state,” a Dutch diplomat told The Brussels Times.
Prime-Minister Janša appeared to have regained the trust of the European Parliament at a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday but interior minister Hojs tweet did not help in restoring the relations with The Netherlands and other member states. The Slovenia EU presidency declined to comment on the interior minister’s tweet.
The Brussels Times