Teenager with fake gun interrupts Dutch TV, is overpowered

30th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

A teenager armed with a fake gun disrupted Dutch television on Thursday evening when he forced his way into the building of public broadcaster NOS and demanded airtime before being overpowered by police.

The 19-year-old, speaking Dutch and carrying a black pistol which police later said was a fake, could be seen pacing next to a desk in an empty studio before being arrested, in footage later shown on NOS.

The NOS building in the central city of Hilversum was evacuated. The incident interrupted NOS's 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) newscast, with a message on screen telling viewers no broadcast was "available at this time".

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said at a press conference that the man, aged 19, came from the town Pijnacker near The Hague and was in police custody.

NOS broadcast a short video of the incident after coming back on air.

Wearing a dark suit, white shirt and dark tie, the young man could be seen speaking calmly to someone off-camera as he claimed to represent a "hackers collective".

He can be heard telling the man that he "wanted to talk about things that are of world importance".

"We were hired by intelligence services. We have heard things that call society into question," he said.

"Once my message has been sent, we'll shake hands and you'll be able to go home."

He immediately dropped his weapon and raised his arms when five armed officers stormed in to restrain him, yelling at him to drop the gun.

"I dropped it, I dropped it," he replied off-screen.

A police voice was then heard saying: "The situation is under control."

- Claimed hacker link -

Speaking live on NOS, general director Jan de Jong said that "thank God" nobody had been injured.

Police combed the building, which was declared safe shortly after 10:00 pm (2100 GMT).

The man had also given a threatening letter to staff, which NOS posted on its website. The note said he was "heavily armed" and not working alone.

"There are five plus 98 hackers ready for a cyber-attack," it read, also warning of "eight heavy explosives placed in the country that contain radioactive material" and would be set off if he was prevented from making a live televised announcement.

Hilversum mayor Pieter Broertjes said extra measures had been taken to protect media workers since two gunmen killed 12 people at the Paris offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo earlier this month.

Despite the increased security, the man still managed to force his way into the NOS studios, allegedly after threatening a security guard with the fake gun.

"We know that since the Paris attacks the press itself has been the focus of attention. You never know when it can happen," Broertjes said at a press conference.

Johan Bac, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said police and prosecutors had launched an investigation into the incident.

Police were considering charges of hostage-taking and illegal possession of a gun.

Dutch Justice and Safety Minister Ivo Opstelten said from initial information it seemed the man was acting on his own.

Meanwhile, local reports suggesting he had recently lost his parents had been proved incorrect, the NOS reported.

The man, identified only as "Tarik", has an Egyptian father and Dutch mother.

He is a student at the Delft Technical University outside south of The Hague and was described by one man interviewed by the NOS as a "normal guy".

The worst incident to date in the sprawling media hub of Hilversum happened in May 2002 when flamboyant anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated by an animal rights activist.

The murder shocked the tolerant-minded Netherlands. Volkert van der Graaf was later sentenced to 18 years in jail for Fortuyn's murder. He was released in May 2014 after serving 12 years.

© 2015 AFP

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