Sat 21 November 2020:
EU defense ministers and the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had a surprise during a supposedly confidential video conference on Friday when a reporter for Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws gained access to the call.
Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld had published a photograph on Twitter of herself taking part in the online meeting. An observant user saw that five of six numbers of the secret code needed to access the meeting were visible and tipped off the broadcaster.
— Ank Bijleveld (@MinBijleveld) November 20, 2020
Journalist Daniel Verlaan was easily able to work out the missing number and enter the virtual negotiating room, prompting a stunned Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, to ask him who he was.
“I’m a journalist from the Netherlands,” Verlaan said to the group. He apologized for the disturbance after being asked by Borrell if he knew that he was in a secret meeting and then left the video chat.
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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was not pleased with Bijleveld.
“This shows once again that ministers need to realize how careful you have to be with Twitter,” he said in the Hague. The defense ministry mentioned a “stupid mistake” and the photo was taken down from Twitter.
An official with the Dutch Defense Ministry described the incident as a “stupid mistake.”
Separately, an EU diplomatic source told the AFP news agency the meeting was cut short immediately after the reporter gained access.
“There may have been laughter, but the incident is considered as very serious,” the official said.
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