The Hague Sues Online News Source “GeenStijl”

THE HAGUE – The muncipality of The Hague is suing online news source, GeenStijl, after they published a video on their website which made it appear as though a high ranking municipality official was abusing her power.

In a video they published on their website earlier this month, a man is shown being arrested when a women who was filming the incident intervenes. She claims to be the policy adviser (‘bestuursadviseur’) of Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor of The Hague, and therefore the man ‘need not worry’. The municipality has criticised GeenStijl for publishing the video, as the woman is not who she claimed to be. According to the municipality, she is a former employee who was never an adviser or even held a similar function.

In their summons they explain why this has led to a legal claim against the news organisation.

“GeenStijl has published an article stating that the policy adviser of Jozias van Aartsen is guilty of abusing her power, without even trying to retrieve the correct information from the municipality or the uploader of the video. Nor has it given the municipality a chance for rebuttal. Therefore, many of the readers think what has happened is accurate.”

This has led to the current policy adviser, whom the woman was impersonating, to receive many angry emails and reactions, even though she was not involved in the incident. It has also led to the investigation of other government advisers, which the municipality has stated is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

GeenStijl is not unused to this kind of controversy and is well known for its provocative journalism. Their approach to reporting is encapsulated in their slogan, ‘Tendentious, unfounded and needlessly offensive’. GeenStijl do not seem too concerned by the summons though. They have responded to the law suit with: ‘Yay, we have another summons on our hands.’ (‘Jippie, we hebben wéér een dagvaarding te pakken’).

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