A video conference meeting of European Union Defense Ministers on Friday was interrupted by a journalist’s access. What got the journalist to attend this secret conference was a big mistake made by a minister.
European Union Defense Ministers and the Union’s head of Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, held a secret video conference meeting on Friday. But the video conference was not as secret as ministers had expected.
A journalist working for RTL Nieuws, which broadcasts in the Netherlands, was able to access this meeting. What allowed journalist Daniel Verlaan to attend the meeting was the Twitter sharing of Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld.
Big mistake from Defense Minister
The Dutch Defense Minister shared a photo of himself on his Twitter account as he attended the conference. The shared photo featured the screen of the minister’s laptop, which was also seen by other defence ministers. Another photo, which was later removed, showed 5 digits of the 6-digit password required to attend the meeting.
One Twitter user reported this detail he noticed to RTL Nieuws. Verlaan said in a Twitter post that the password was predictable in a few attempts. The journalist managed to attend this conference, which was held later.
Realising that the journalist was attending the conference, Josep Borrell asked if he was aware that he was involved in a highly secretive conference. “I’m sorry for interrupting the conference, I’m leaving,” said Verlaan, who said he was a journalist himself. Borrell stated that this was a criminal offence and that he should leave the conference.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement that the incident showed once again how careful ministers should be on Twitter. The Dutch Defence Ministry called the incident a “stupid mistake”.
Diplomatic sources said the meeting was urgently cancelled shortly after the journalist gained access to the conference. “There may have been a shooting but the incident has been assessed as quite serious,” the official statement said. You can watch the moments when the journalist accessed the conference here.