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Ben de Jong and Paul Abels in Dutch Newspaper AD on the Espionage Case between the Netherlands and Russia

Ben de Jong and Paul Abels, both working for ISGA, discuss the Russian claim that espionage equipment was found in Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD). According to the Russians the equipment was found in one of the cars used by their diplomats in The Hague.

Yet another dent in the relationship between the Netherlands and Russia. Selective indignation De Jong calls it, if the accusations are accurate: 'Every security agency tries to do the same thing to hostile intelligence services, it's completely normal.' Abels doubts whether the Netherlands are actually spying on Russia: 'It could very well be a set-up by the Russians to put the Netherlands in a bad light. The world of espionage is a world of make believe, where nothing is what it seems.'

De Jong explains how it is almost impossible to install equipment undetected, the easiest option would be to place a GPS tracker under a vehicle. De Jong: 'That can be done easily, the technology has been around for ages.'

Publicity interest

The question is why Russia has made the case public. Such cases are usually dealt with behind doors. Abels and De Jong suspect that the strained relationship between Russia and the Netherlands play a role in this. 'At the moment, very few relations with Western countries are more strained than those with the Netherlands. The fact that the Netherlands continues to accuse Russia of orchestrating the MH17 crash has touched a sore spot in Moscow.'

Russia could possibly benefit from the publicity, according De Jong: 'Russia has been trying to rock the boat in all its relations with the West lately.' Abels en De Jong also believe that the decision to make this case public was taken at a high level: 'It's most definitely passed by Vladimir Putin himself, or the Russian Security Council.'

You can read the full article (in Dutch) by the Algemene Dagblad here

Dr. Ben de Jong is a guest researcher in the field of intelligence services at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University. He was previously a guest researcher at the University of Amsterdam.

Prof. dr. Paul H.A.M. Abels is Professor by special appointment Intelligence and Security Services at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) of Leiden University (location The Hague). His research interests include the management and operation of intelligence and security services, the supervision of the intelligence and security services and their role and position in the wider security system, and intelligence leadership. He conducts research on the gathering of information as a profession and the ethics of intelligence gathering.

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