Turkey deports Dutch journalist on security grounds, cites Dutch intelligence

Turkey has deported a Dutch journalist who worked for the Financieele Dagblad, Trouw and One World, for 'security-related reasons'. Ans Boersma, 31, was picked up on Wednesday morning when she went to the immigration service to apply for an extension to her residency permit. She was then told she had been deemed to be 'persona non grata', kept overnight in a detention centre, and was put on a plane back to the Netherlands on Thursday morning, the FD said. The reason for her deportation remains extremely unclear. According to a spokesman for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Boersma is suspected of having links to a terrorist organisation. There is absolutely no connection with her journalistic activities in Turkey, the spokesman is quoted as saying by the NRC. Instead, the Netherlands told Turkey that Boersma had links to Jabhat al-Nusra, the spokesman said on Twitter. The Netherlands told Turkey that the reporter, who was deported today, had links to Jabhat al-Nusra. We acted on intelligence from the Netherlands and took a precautionary measure. — Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) January 17, 2019 'If a credible foreign gov't agency tells you that one of their citizens has links to terrorism, you don't take any chances,' he said in a second tweet. 'The Dutch authorities alone are in a position to explain why they arrived at that conclusion. We won't speculate on the credibility of their intelligence.' Suspect The Dutch public prosecution department, which first denied she had been extradited, confirmed to news agency ANP that information had been shared with the Turkish authorities and that Boersma is a suspect in a criminal investigation linked to terrorism. No request 'The criminal investigation relates to suspicion of terrorism involving other defendants,' the department said in a short statement on Thursday afternoon. There was no request to arrest or deport the woman and she is not suspected of any crime relating to terrorism herself, the department said. Boersma herself says on the FD website that her deportation may relate to the fact that 'up to summer 2015' she had a relationship with a Syrian national who was arrested in the Netherlands last autumn because of his former membership of the Syrian terrorist organisatio Jabhat al-Nusra. The Financieele Dagblad is calling for full clarity from the justice and foreign affairs ministry about why and how information about a Dutch journalist was shared with Turkish investigators.  More >

House rents continue to rise

The rise in rents in non-rent controlled property has slowed down slightly, with Amsterdam showing the smallest increase in the four big cities, according to new research by housing platform Pararius. At the end of last year, new tenants in Amsterdam were paying an average of €1,493 for a 65 square metre flat, a rise of 3.2% on the previous year. In Rotterdam and The Hague the rise was 4%, in Utrecht almost 13%. Nationwide the increase was 4.9%, the first time in 3.5 years that the average rise has dipped below 5%. 'The difference between the previous two quarters may seem small but taking price developments over the past four years, there would appear to be a slow down in the rate of increase,' Pararius director Jasper de Groot said. Almere The biggest rise was Almere, where rents rose over 22% to an average of €815 for a 65 square metre apartment. Real estate agent Marcel Schumacher said the shortage of homes plus the attractiveness of Almere to expats as an alternative to Amsterdam were having an impact. The Pararius figures show that the number of non-rent controlled properties offered to new tenants via the website fell 12% last year. 'We need to increase the size of the mid-market rental sector,' De Groot said. 'But there is really no easy option to solve the shortage homes and the rise in rents.'  More >

Cold case calendar may jog more memories

Dutch police said on Thursday they have published a new cold case calendar with 52 cases that have never been solved. Following the success of the last two editions, the calendar will again be distributed among prisons across the country in a bid to jog memories. Cases range from murder to missing persons and unidentified bodies. The oldest case on the 2019 calendar is that of Alwin Sterk from Amsterdam who went missing in 1972. So far the calendars have led to a great number of tips. In 2018, 302 tips came in, of which 40 led to a result. Thirteen cases were reopened or are in the process of being reopened awaiting sufficient grounds to do so. Police cold case expert Aart Garssen told broadcaster NOS there is a relatively large amount of knowledge about unsolved cases among (ex) prisoners. ‘We are doing it for the families. We tell them: the police can’t solve each and every case but we never stop trying. Cold cases also merit our attention,’ he told the broadcaster. Some of the cases are re-opened because people decide to talk after years of silence or because new techniques, such as DNA testing, can help solve them. An extension of the limitation period in 2013 also gives police the chance to investigate longer. Digitisation of cold cases and the use of artificial intelligence can help with the analysis of cases. ‘A better insight into all cold cases will help us allocate scarce police resources to cases that stand the best chance of being solved. We will also use the services of external experts, such as universities and retired police officers,’ Garssen said.  More >

Two in five Dutch are eating less meat

The Dutch are eating less meat, with two in five people saying they cut down on steak and burgers last year, according to research by website Nu.nl. Around one third of the 20,000 people polled said they ate meat every day, while one in 10 is vegetarian and 7% fully vegan. Some 90% of vegetarians and vegans said animal welfare issues were the main reason for giving up meat. The environment was the main reason cited by meat eaters who had reduced their consumption, but around 50% also mentioned animal welfare. A quarter of the vegetarians in the survey had given up meat at least 20 years ago, but around a quarter 'converted' in 2017 or 2018, Nu.nl said. Last month, broadcaster NOS reported that the Dutch are buying more vegetarian hamburgers, chicken nuggets and other meat substitutes but meat is still king. According to data analyst group IRI, meat substitutes are becoming more popular but still only represent a fraction of what is spent on meat. In the first 11 months of 2018, some €2bn was spent on meat products, compared with €97m on replacements. The first ‘national week without meat’ in the Netherlands was held last March. During that week spending on substitutes shot up by 50%, partly because supermarkets had offers on to promote the products, NOS said.  More >

Councils ignore welfare benefit rules

Six in 10 local authorities require people claiming welfare benefits (bijstand) to do something in return for their money, such as voluntary work in a community centre. But the other 40% don't ask claimants to give back to society, as required by law, junior social affairs minister Tamara van Ark told MPs in a briefing. In addition, few local authorities are cutting the benefits of people who don't speak sufficient Dutch to find a job, the research, carried out by the national statistics office CBS, showed. The research shows 8% of benefit claimants - or 36,300 people - don't speak enough Dutch but just 150 people have had their benefits reduced. The law allows councils to cut benefits by 20% for six months, followed by 40% for a further six months. After a year, the claimant can lose their benefits altogether. Van Ark said councils must put national policy into practice and make sure welfare claimants meet the language requirements and do something for the community in return for cash. The minister said she is prepared to use all measures at her disposal to make sure local authorities comply with the legislation. 'It is unacceptable that people are waiting on the sidelines, especially now, given the shortage of workers,' Van Ark said. 'Councils must do more to implement the language and voluntary work requirements.'  More >

Woman 'stole' €1m for internet lover

A woman from Hoogvliet is on trial for embezzling €1.1m from her employer which she sent to man she met on the internet, the AD reports. The 51-year-old, who worked for DIY firm Karwei for 32 years and worked her way up to a position of trust in the firm's admin office, met the man on Facebook in 2015 and fell in love with him. She also claimed to have been blackmailed over a nude photo, the AD says. Requests for money initially put her off  but soon after she started sending him money, first her own, then money from a loan. She then stole company money by changing the account number on payments to suppliers to her own. ‘He was very kind and sweet and my marriage wasn’t going that well so I needed love and affection,’ Hannelore S told the court. Her final transfer to Africa before the bank discovered the fraud was €70,000. The man said he needed money for operations for him and his family. S claimed to have no idea what the man looked like, having only seen his bandaged head at the time of his alleged operation, and to have skyped with him just once in two and a half years. She spoke to him on the phone every day but had no address because ‘he couldn’t give me one’. Breaking down in tears the woman said she kept thinking the man would repay the money but that she had been gullible. She denied she had made the whole thing up to start a new life elsewhere with the money. The case was interrupted on a technicality and will be continued at a later date.  More >

Bridge was on verge of disastrous collapse

The Merwede bridge on the A27 between Gorinchem and Sleeuwijk was days away from collapsing in a potential repeat of the Morandi bridge disaster, experts told current affairs programme EenVandaag. Delft University professors Rob Nijsse and Ben Ale based their conclusions on a report on the state of the bridge by advisory agency Berenschot. In October 2016 the Merwede bridge was suddenly closed to heavy traffic because the bridge structural supports were found to have hairline fractures. ‘That means the bridge is a write-off and that it is a miracle it is still standing,' Ale told EenVandaag. In December the bridge was deemed safe enough to allow heavy traffic to use it again. Ale said the Netherlands escaped a disaster on the scale of the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genua in Italy last year which killed 43 people, and that the bridge was just six days away from giving way. The report calls into question the quality of safety controls of bridges in the Netherland, Ale told EenVandaag. ‘Perhaps sometimes a fatal accident is necessary to get the message across,’ he said.  More >