Dutch journalist gatecrashes confidential European Union defence video conference

Elias Hubbard
November 22, 2020

An EU meeting had to be halted after a Dutch journalism gatecrashed a confidential video conference between defence ministers.

Daniel Verlaan of RTL Nieuws popped up in the meeting after Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld tweeted a photo that contained the login address and most of the PIN code for the online event. The minister had published a photo of herself working from home while taking part in the conference. Another picture, which has since been removed, showed five digits of a six-digit pin needed to gain access to the call.

Footage obtained by POLITICO shows the journalist, Daniël Verlaan of RTL Nieuws, appearing in a large window at the top of the videoconference screen, dressed in a black T-shirt, grinning and waving to the ministers.

What did Borrell say to the reporter?

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told Verlaan, amid laughter from some officials.

"Now I have to stop because we are working at a public square", Borrell continued before addressing the reporter again.

'I am a journalist from the Netherlands, ' Verlaan said.

He then apologised and left the group after Borrell told him it was a secret meeting and that he had better go before the police arrived.

"Yes, yes. I'm sorry". I'm sorry for interrupting your conference, ' Mr Verlaan replied, to laughter from officials. "I'll be leaving here".

It was not immediately clear if Verlaan would face legal consequences.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has since reacted to the security blunder with a jab at his defense minister.

A Dutch defence ministry spokesperson said tweeting the login details had been a "stupid mistake".

An EU diplomatic official told AFP the meeting was cut short immediately afterwards and that the continental body gave online security the utmost priority.

"In September this year, the General Secretariat of the Council proposed the introduction of a new and more secure videoconference system, which is now being considered by member states", the official said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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