How did a journalist break into a secret meeting of European...

21 November 2020
Screenshot showing the journalist and meeting participants

Image Released, TWITTER

A Dutch journalist managed to break into a closed-circuit video meeting of European Union defense ministers.

Journalist Daniel Verlan, from Dutch broadcaster RTL News, joined the meeting after the Dutch Defense Minister mistakenly posted some of the login details on Twitter.

And as he seemed surprised that he had succeeded in entering the meeting, the journalist, who specialized in technology matters, waved his hand.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, spoke to the journalist, saying, “You know you jumped into a secret conference, didn’t you?”

As officials laughed, Verlan responded, “Yes, yes, I’m sorry. I’m a journalist from the Netherlands. I’m sorry for interrupting your conference. I’m leaving.”

“You know that what you have done is a criminal offense, right?” Borrell replied, adding, “You’d better get out quickly before the police arrive.”

The journalist was able to enter the meeting after Dutch Defense Minister Ann Bielefeld published on her Twitter page a photo containing the entry address and part of the access code.

“After a number of attempts, RTL News succeeded in guessing the entry code for the confidential consultation meeting, because five of the six numbers (that make up the code) were visible in the image,” according to the station.

While many have dealt with the situation cynically, it has raised serious questions about the security of secret EU meetings.

The meeting ended because of what happened, and a spokesperson for the Federation’s Foreign Affairs Council told RTL that “such a breach is illegal and will be reported to the authorities.”

A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Defense said that the tweet (posted by the minister) with the login details was a “stupid mistake”.

“This demonstrates the extent of care that must be taken when sending a picture for a meeting,” he added.

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