A Dutch journalist specializing in criminal investigations was shot dead on Wednesday evening in Amsterdam and is in serious condition.
Peter R. de Vries, 64, a famous Dutch TV presenter, was shot and killed on several occasions in a street in central Amsterdam around 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. GMT). He left his workshop after attending a meeting.
Witnesses reported hearing five shots and seeing one of the bullets hit the journalist in the head, state television NOS reported. “He is struggling to survive,” Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said.
According to Amsterdam Police Chief Frank Paauw, three people were arrested: two of them in a vehicle on a highway and one in the city where the crime was committed. Among these people is the alleged perpetrator of the shots. Paauw did not give details of the arrests or the motive for the crime.
Vries is the winner of an International Emmy Award for investigating the disappearance of an American teenager in Aruba in 2005. Throughout his career, he has been threatened with death several times. On Twitter, her son posted that “the worst nightmare [da família] has become reality “.
Armed attacks are rare in the Netherlands, but drug trafficking-related deaths have increased as criminal groups compete for markets. In 2019, a lawyer who was working on a high-impact case in the country, in which Vries acted as an advisor to one of the witnesses, was killed outside his house in Amsterdam.
The attack sparked a backlash from Dutch and European politicians and was seen as an attack on press freedom.
“The attack on Peter R. de Vries is shocking and inconceivable. It is an attack on a courageous journalist and, by extension, on the freedom of the press, so essential to our democracy and our rule of law,” said declared the Prime Minister. Dutch Minister Mark Rutte said hours after the attack.
“This is an attack on journalism, a pillar of our rule of law,” King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands said at a rally seen as proof of the journalist’s importance, because royalty does not comment on individual cases. “And it is also an attack on our constitutional order,” he said.
“It is a dark day, not only for those close to Peter R. de Vries, but for press freedom,” said Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferdinand Grapperhaus. “We want any journalist in this country to be able to conduct an investigation in complete freedom. And this freedom has clearly been attacked tonight,” he added.
The attack also sparked reactions outside the Netherlands. “It is a crime against journalism and an attack on our democratic values,” European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter. “We will continue to tirelessly defend press freedom.
The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, has said that the media are the backbone of democracy. “Attacks on journalists are attacks on all of us,” he said.
Tom Gibson, European Union representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, an American press freedom NGO, said “European Union journalists must be able to investigate crime and corruption without fear for their safety ”.
In the latest ranking of the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on press freedom, the Netherlands ranks sixth out of 180 countries, behind Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Costa Rica.