The Public Prosecution Service will prosecute 37-year-old Gideon van Meijeren of the far-right party FvD for two counts of sedition. “The suspect suggested that violence against the government was permitted and perhaps even necessary,” the OM said about two incidents last year.
On July 2 last year, Van Meijeren spoke at a farmers’ protest in Tuil, during a time when farmers demonstrated en masse against government plans to cut nitrogen emissions. In his speech, which was also posted online, the far-right politician “pointed out that it is permissible to violently resist the government if it were to expropriate farmers,” the OM said. Van Meijeren told the gathered farmers that they’d never move the government to action with peaceful protests and by waving flags in the meadows, among other things.
And on November 13, Van Meijeren speculated about overthrowing the government during an online interview. The MP said he hoped for a revolutionary movement that would occupy parliament. Van Meijeren said he hoped this “velvet revolution” would be peaceful, although, according to him, past examples show that there are often casualties. “That is terrible, and let’s hope that we can prevent that and that everything remains peaceful. That is what I hope for in the end,” he said.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the statements “reprehensible” at the time.
According to the OM, politicians have a lot of freedom to raise issues of general interest, even if those hurt or alarm others. “At the same time, a politician in the public debate also bears the responsibility to avoid spreading statements that are contrary to the law and basic principles of the rule of law,” the OM said.
Van Meijeren failed in that responsibility, the OM said. “The suspect’s statements made him guilty of two counts of criminal incitement to violent action against public authorities.” He will be prosecuted.
Anyone convicted of violating Dutch Criminal Code Article 131, the provision covering sedition, faces a maximum prison term of five years per count. Each incident also carries a fine of up to 22,500 euros. The prison time can be increased by one-third if the offense is considered to be related to terrorism.
This is not Van Meijeren’s first run-in with the law. In March, he got a suspended prison sentence for driving without a license, which was previously confiscated for driving under the influence. He has also been accused of various forms of misconduct and threatening a journalist.