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NL remains a major target for Russian spies: security chief
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The Netherlands remains an important target for Russian espionage thanks to its defence industry, the high-tech sector and the international organisations based here, the military security service MIVD said on Thursday in its annual report.

“The threat from Russia is major,” director Peter Reesink said. “The Netherlands is an attractive target, partly because it is an important military hub. There are also many data hubs in the North Sea, which are of interest for possible sabotage.”

The Netherlands is also home to the International Criminal Court and the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, both of which are investigating possible war crimes by Russia in Ukraine. 

In 2022, the Netherlands expelled 17 Russian diplomats for spying, following information from the AIVD and MIVD security services. But others are likely to be in the country, possibly posing as businessmen or journalists, the MIVD said. 

The security service also reported an increase in the number of people with extreme right-wing views applying for jobs at the defence ministry. But none, so far, have been identified as having “terrorist intentions”. 

Last year the agency did take measures against staff who were considered to be open to influence by extremists.

“Some anti-institutional extremists see the defence ministry as part of the evil elite or have called on soldiers to take action to protect the people,” the report said. “This is a threat to the armed forces, democracy and the rule of law.” 

Some of the tens of thousands of people in the Netherlands, who believe in the concept of an “evil elite” and refuse to recognise the state or the rule of law, are prepared to use violence, the Dutch counter terrorism unit NCTV warned earlier this month.

The MIVD also said in the report it had placed 2,666 taps last year as part of its investigations. This included phone and internet taps, taps on IP addresses and planting microphones.  

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