Dutch crime reporter Peter R de Vries in 2019
A Dutch crime reporter who had been the target of death threats was shot and badly injured in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening.
Peter R de Vries, widely-known and praised for his investigative work on the Dutch criminal underworld, was shot in the capital as he left a television studio where he had appeared as a guest.
Police said three people were arrested – two in a car on a motorway and one in Amsterdam.
According to Amsterdam’s police chief, one of those arrested is “probably” the suspected shooter. He didn’t give further information on the arrests or a possible motive for the crime.
Dutch caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said the shooting was “shocking and inconceivable”.
“It is an attack on a courageous journalist and therefore an attack on the freedom of the press which is so essential for our democracy and our rule of law,” he told a news conference.
Fighting for his life
The 64-year-old journalist and TV presenter is “fighting to stay alive” according to Femke Halsema, the mayor of Amsterdam.
De Vries is well-known in the country for his role in several criminal cases, having regularly appeared as a spokesman for victims or in the close circle of key witnesses.
He has received a number of death threats during his career.
Witnesses on Tuesday heard five gunshots and saw that the journalist had been shot in the head, public television NOS reported.
The caretaker prime minister and Justice and Security Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus went to the National Security and Counter-Terrorism Agency (NCTV) in The Hague in the evening to “discuss” the case.
“This is a dark day, not only for the people close to Peter R. de Vries but also for the freedom of the press,” Grapperhaus told journalists.
“We want journalists in the Netherlands to be able to carry out any investigation that needs to be carried out in freedom. This freedom has been seriously undermined tonight,” he added.
“Journalists in the European Union must be able to investigate crime and corruption without fearing for their safety,” said the EU representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a US-based press freedom organisation.
The latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index puts the Netherlands in sixth place out of 180 countries in 2021, behind Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Costa Rica.