A woman who was given a formal warning for her role in the occupation of Schiphol airport in November 2022 even though she was attending a wedding at the time, says has been told by the Marechaussee military police force she will remain on their files as a person of interest.
The public prosecution department sent warnings to 176 people who were arrested at the airport and identified on the basis of information provided by the Marechaussee but it transpired later at least seven of them were not at the demonstration.
Kristen Verdel who placed a copy of the “intimidating” letter she had received on social media at the time, has now gone public with the results of her efforts to clear her name, providing insight into the way the identifications were made.
She was told by the public prosecution department that people were identified via “public sources”, for example by looking at photographs on the social media accounts belonging to people who had liked a post by Extinction Rebellion. The comparisons were made by people rather than facial recognition software.
Photos she was shown of “herself” looked nothing like her, Verdel said. A facial recognition expert was also called in but declined to confirm that the photos were not her.
No-one could confirm how she had been identified, Verdel said. “They did not know. It was a team decision, they said. No-one knew on what basis. But I don’t think I have ever reacted to an Extinction Rebellion post or twittered about it. So I don’t understand it at all.”
MPs have now pledged to ask questions about the case and military police identification methods. Verdel is also talking to lawyers. In the meantime, her name will remain on military police files because she had been talking to them and was therefore a person of interest, but not a suspect.
“I want an apology, and I want my name to be removed from all the systems, but most of all, I want a change in the system, so that this cannot happen to others,” she said.
The public prosecution department earlier ordered the military police to review the identifications and determine what went wrong. The meeting with Verdel is part of that investigation, which is still ongoing.