Security stepped up for Dutch PM Mark Rutte over concerns of drug gang threat

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Mark Rutte is feared to have been targeted by drug gangs  (Reuters)
Mark Rutte is feared to have been targeted by drug gangs (Reuters)

Security has tightened around the Netherlands’ prime minister Mark Rutte after police were alerted to a possible attack by a drug gang, a Dutch newspaper reports.

De Telegraaf say that police officers from the Royal Diplomatic Security Service (DKDB) have been deployed to shadow Mr Rutte after “spotters” were seen scoping out his movements, prompting fears of a kidnapping or attack.

They also pointed to an “elite security guard” who accompanied Mr Rutte to a budget debate last week as evidence of heightened security.

A government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, reportedly confirmed De Telegraaf’s story to Reuters news agency.

The prime minister himself has refused to discuss the matter, telling reporters that safety and protection issues should never be discussed in public.

Mr Rutte, leader of the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, has been leader of the Netherlands since 2010.

A conservative who vowed to crack down on organised crime, he has foregone extensive security throughout his political career, insisting on cycling to work in The Hague and often taking selfies with members of the public.

The reports come just months after the murder of Dutch crime journalist and former lawyer Peter R de Vries by organised criminals. That Mr de Vries was shot in broad daylight in the nation’s capital was seen as evidence of increased violence in the Netherlands’ drugs trade.

Mr de Vries was appointed counsellor to the star witness of a high-profile drugs case shortly before his death. Footage of the moments after the journalist was shot was shared to social media in what investigators believe was intended to be a message that nobody is out of the reach of drug gangs.

In 2019, the chairman of the Netherland’s biggest police union said that the nation has the “characteristics of narco-state”.

Jan Struijs’ comments followed the murder of Derk Wiersum, the lawyer of the crown prosecution’s star witness Nabil B, for whom Mr de Vries had also been vocally supportive in the media. Mr Wiersum was shot in front of his wife outside their home in Amsterdam.

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