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Dutch journalists detained, material confiscated, after returning from Donbass

Two journalists from the Netherlands, Michel Spekkers and Stefan Beck, were detained by Dutch officials when they were returning back to Amsterdam from a working trip in the Donbass People's Republics. Officially accreditated journalists were collecting materials for over a week about downing of the MH17 in 2014, and making other documentary materials about the life in the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.

The official DONi News Agency in Donbass confirms the information, that Spekkers and Beck had valid documents and official support to conduct investigative journalism in the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics. They had also made an interview with DONi News director, Janus Putkonen, while they were visiting Donetsk during the New Year holidays.

All of the equipment, personal and working materials, laptops, phones, cameras, memory sticks were confiscated from the journalists by Dutch security officials immediately on their arrival. They were informed, that "such documentary material from the MH17 issue is illegal".

"The NJV (Dutch Journalist Union) has succeeded in sealing the data. This means that without court order it is impossible for police to get an access to the material. However, it is not clear yet what court will decide," said Stefan Beck to DONi News Agency on Monday.

All of the material collected by Michel Spekkers and Stefan Beck about the MH17 crash in Donbass, and other materials, for example street interviews, has been confiscated by the police on their arrival to the Netherlands, Beck said.

"I hope the discussion will turn to what should be addressed: that the Dutch investigation into the MH17 has neglected to extract material, even though it is easily accessible. And that the Public Prosecuting Service gives false arguments concerning the reason why the investigation cannot continue in the area: the area where the MH17 crashed is not as dangerous as the PPS wants outsiders to believe," Beck stressed to the DONi News Agency.

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) claims that it could not collect this material because the region where the plane has crashed is too dangerous. "However, during our stay in the area we noticed that this was not the case," Beck said. "Another claim of the OM is that it is impossible to collect all the materials of the wreckage because it has been spread over such a large area. It should therefore be impossible to find it all. This is a valid claim, however the OM also neglects to collect material which is collected in warehouses," he continued.

"The incorrect reasoning of the OM and the confiscation of the material (including image material), gives rise to doubt about the auditability and reliability of the investigation," Beck said.


Law enforcement agencies of the Netherlands failed to explain the reason for confiscation of journalistic materials on the Malaysian Boeing MH17 tragedy in Donbass, told to Rossiiskaya Gazeta one of the reporters detained by police at the airport of Amsterdam, Michel Spekkers, who had just returned from Donbass.

"The police told to media that my actions – I collected and took with me objects from the MH17 crash site – were illegal. But they haven't explained why it was illegal," Michel Spekkers told RG. "I was only told: it is illegal, it is forbidden. But when I asked them to specify the law article in which it had been stated, they didn't answer. And nothing was told about it so far," he said.

The Dutch journalist told that he was going to protect his rights and to insist on the return of the materials collected in Donbass. "We intend to protect our rights," noted Spekkers. 

"Last night we managed to achieve with the Dutch journalist union’s assistance a judicial ban on access to the information we had collected. It means that the police has no right either to touch the materials, or to examine them without a special permission. But, nevertheless, before this, they had several hours of open access to the collected materials. Also we can only guess what was going on during those several hours," Spekkers said to RG.


The director of the Donbass International News Agency DONi, Janus Putkonen, who had been accompanying the Dutch journalists during their trip to Donbass, told the RG reporter what a unique material on circumstances of the Malaysian passenger plane's crash they had collected near Donetsk:

"Journalists Stefan Beck and Michel Spekkers spent nearly a week in Donbass. They obtained in advance all the necessary accreditations for work on the territory of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republic as journalists in accordance with the established procedure," said Putkonen to Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Monday.

"Beck and Spekkers are reporters, famous in Europe. They have launched an impressive number of reports and analytical programs. I will note that both Dutches have a command of the Russian language. In Donbass they needed almost no help and were working independently: came into contacts with the right people necessary to them, were moving around the region freely and communicating with their interlocutors without a translator," Putkonen said.

During the trip to the DPR and LPR the Dutches were accompanied by a British journalist Graham Phillips they were well-acquainted with and considered to be a trustworthy person.

"Nobody controlled Beck and Spekkers in Donbass, and no exact reports were required. I know that from the very beginning of the trip they set the task to visit the site of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft's crash, to talk to eyewitnesses of the accident, and to those who had been working at the place of the tragedy. Their interest is quite clear: the air crash which occurred on July 17, 2014 near Donetsk, the majority of passengers onboard being residents of the Netherlands, continues disturbing the Dutch society. Investigation of the causes of the tragedy is still not completed and people know little about it," said the director of DONi Donbass News Agency.

"Beck and Spekkers wanted to give new details to the public and set off to Donbass particularly for this purpose. They had a meeting with all the people they had planned to talk to. At that they were mostly talking not to officials, but to the eyewitnesses and rescuers who had been working on the airliner's crash site, i.e. to those who had touched the plane's fragments with their own hands and saw the perished passengers' bodies with their own eyes", Putkonen continued.

"I was also interviewed by the Dutches on the airliner's crash subject. I told them about the information war waged by the West, as well as unscrupulous and dishonourable coverage in the European media of circumstances of the tragedy which had happened to the Malaysian aircraft near Donetsk. Journalists were raising sensitive issues. They were interested in Donbass residents' opinion on the investigation of the causes of the aircrash. They have collected an impressive amount of photo and video records, as well as analytical data and interviews. I don't know for sure which information those materials contained. We don't control the work of journalists. We only give them help and assist in performance of their professional duties," noted Putkonen.

"Before flying back home the Dutches looked quite satisfied with the work done during the trip and left Donbass safely with all their luggage," Putkonen continued. "Everyone was shocked in Donetsk by the news that the Netherlands' authorities had detained Beck and Spekkers and confiscated all their videos, and other journalistic materials."

Janus Putkonen, editorial article

DONi News Agency

Referring to: Rossiiskaya Gazeta


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