Anti-coronavirus rule activist Willem Engel has been arrested in Rotterdam and faces charges of incitement, a day after the Netherlands announced plans to lift the remaining regulations.
Engel, who was not named by the public prosecution department in its media release, is said to have ‘posted incendiary corona-related messages on social media over a long period of time’.
Engel, a dance teacher and founder of campaign group Viruswaarheid, will appear in court on Friday, when judges will decide if he should be remanded in custody. His girlfriend filmed the incident and placed it on social media.
His legal advisor Jeroen Pols said on Twitter the arrest is ‘a frontal attack on critics and opponents’ of the ‘Rutte regime’.
He later told broadcaster NOS that the arrest is part of a pattern of arresting people who ‘criticise the regime’ and accused the media of publishing articles which ‘sow hatred’.
The public prosecution department began an investigation into Engel in January after more than 22,000 people signed a joint complaint, accusing Engel of sedition, spreading medical misinformation, fraud and making threats.
‘The arrest was made on the basis of the initial outcome of the research into the suspect’s actions, the public prosecution department said in a statement.
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