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Dutch court blocks access to data gathered by independent journalists in Donbass

January 09, 20:28 UTC+3 THE HAGUE
The Dutch Journalists Union intervened, and several hours after the equipment had been confiscated, the court banned access to the data, according to one of the journalists
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© Zurab Dzhavakhadze/TASS

THE HAGUE, January 9. /TASS/. A Dutch court has blocked police access to the data seized from independent journalists after their return from Ukraine’s troubled Donbass, one of the affected journalists, freelancer Michel Spekkers told Tass on Monday.

He said the Dutch Journalists Union intervened, and several hours after the equipment had been confiscated, the court banned access to the data.

"That means they cannot access it anymore until judge orders them to do so," he said. "But it is political, and you never know when it becomes political what they will or will not do. But I hope they will respect the law and I will get my data back," he added.

"But they had few hours when there was no court order and they still could have a look at it. I don't know what happened within that timeframe," he stated.

Michel Spekkers and his colleague Stefan Beck spent nine days in Donbass. After their return home on January 7, Dutch law enforcement agencies detained both at the airport and confiscated all materials gathered on the MH17 crash, as well as cameras, cellphones and notebooks.

"All of the material collected by Michel Spekkers and me about the MH17 crash in Donbass (Lugansk and Donetsk) and other material, for example street interviews, has been confiscated by the police upon arrival to the Netherlands," Stefan Beck wrote on his Facebook page.

Security situation at the MH17 crash site

The Dutch authorities have a wrong picture of the security situation at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine, Michel Spekkers told Tass. 

"The Dutch government hides behind the fact that they cannot investigate more on the MH17 crash site because of insecurity situation there. I have been working there without feeling any risk," the journalist said.

He said he had picked up and brought to the Netherlands some fragments of the Boeing as well as a bone fragment.

"I took one fragment of the bone with me to investigate here what kind of bone it is. But I don’t know for sure (if it was human remaining), I cannot confirm. What I do know is when they confiscated it, two forensic policemen were there and they decided to send it to the lab for more investigation," the journalist said.

He said he was ready to share the materials gathered in Donbass with the police, including photos from the crash site. However, "they confiscated everything, including my computers, voice recorders, cameras, SD-cards, hard drives," he said.

He said the situation in Ukraine’s troubled Donbass was in the focus of his attention and not the MH17 crash.

"Within nine days we were making investigation of geopolitics of Lugansk and Donetsk area and I was only one day on MH17 site," Spekkers said adding that he hoped to return to the region.

"I see how people try to create a new state there, and really try hard to build up something. But they are in the beginning stage of it, so it is interesting to see how it develops in the coming months and years," he summed up.

On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH17 en route from the Dutch city of Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur crashed in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. All the 283 passengers and 15 crew members, nationals from ten countries, died in the crash. Most passengers were Dutch nationals. Ukraine’s authorities and the militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic accused each other of the tragedy. Dutch authorities have been investigating the crash.

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