The radical right-wing platform Vizier op Links intimidated historian Nadia Bouras and GroenLinks politician Huub Bellemakers, among others, by putting stickers on their front door. Various reports have now been filed and parliamentary questions have been asked, but the big question remains (and we have no answer to that yet): who is behind Vizier op Links? This is what we now know.
Vizier op Links sends messages daily and is legally difficult to tackle. With these messages, the platform ‘exposes’ alleged left-wing politicians, judges and scientists by putting their names and addresses online.
Legally, the site is difficult to tackle as long as the people behind it remain unknown, says lawyer Otto Volgant. “Once we know who they are, you can at least start civil but possibly also criminal proceedings.”
The stickers that were stuck on the doors and windows last week were divided among donors who paid money through the Backme donation platform.
For 10 euros per month a donor could become an ‘ally’ and then received a set of fifty stickers with the text ‘Observed location’ and ten stickers in A4 format with the text ‘Wanted left activists’.
It is therefore unclear who is hiding behind Vizier op Links. NU.nl spoke to presenter and former politician Jan Roos, who was approached in December by the people behind Vizier op Links. Roos manages the Backme donation platform together with co-initiator Ahmed Aarad.
Roos has no idea who is behind Vizier op Links. “I was approached via Twitter. I then looked at their timeline, now and then it is funny and sometimes it is not. But that is not the point. At Backme we are not about the content, my taste or preference is not leading are but the applicable legislation. ”
Roos brought Vizier op Links into contact with his partner Aarad. They mutually agreed to allow Vizier op Links to access the platform, but to ‘keep an eye on things’, says Roos. Aarad: “We thought it was fine that he wanted to expose networks, but we wanted it to stay that way. Do not divulge addresses of people, because that is intimidation.”
They never had personal contact with the people behind Vizier op Links, only via Twitter and Telegram. Aarad transferred the donations received to a bitcoin account.
After the sticker action, the alarm bells start to ring. When historian Nadia Bouras finds a sticker on her doorpost, she reports this on Twitter and goes to the police to report it.
“I saw it on Twitter and immediately called Ahmed,” says Roos. Aarad in turn contacts Vizier op Links, but he did not want to take responsibility for the sticker campaign. Aarad: Then it stopped for me. We pulled the plug within an hour.
For Vizier op Links, the fuss is reason to stoke the fire further. The stickers are dismissed as “fun”, “thousands of them have already been sent” and it would be “a bit complicated to charge us each individual sticker”.
Vizier op Links reports this week that not only Backme, but also Protonmail, PayPal and Linktree refuse to cooperate. Stickers cannot be ordered for the time being because “it takes time to invent and set up a new system”.
The web host from Urk is not substantively involved with Vizier op Links. The 21-year-old web host S. Bakker from Urk provides the hosting of Vizier op Links for a while. Bakker is accused of ‘extreme right-wing sympathies’ on the left-wing activist website Indymedia in December last year. The anonymous authors, who describe themselves as ‘online anti-fascists’, claim that Bakker is ‘the owner and probably only employee’ of Vizier op Links.
He is not asked for a reply. After publication of the article by Indymedia, Bakker is overloaded with responses, he tells NU.nl. Bakker says that he was not involved in the content of Vizier op Links, but acted purely as a web host.
He himself had no contact with the people behind Vizier op Links. The hosting package was ordered through a so-called ‘reseller’, Bakker rented out the physical machines. Contact with the customer went beyond him. “I immediately turned off Vizier op Links after that article on Indymedia,” says Bakker. “I don’t want to be associated with that.”
After Vizier op Links in Ukraine fell short, the website says it has found shelter in Iceland, but it seems that Vizier op Links has moved again, this time to Arizona in the United States. Vizier op Links is still active on Twitter. There is no answer to questions from NU.nl to Twitter.
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