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Officials in the Netherlands on April 3 re-arrested Willem Engel, a prominent campaigner against COVID-19 restrictions, claiming Engel violated the terms of his bail by discussing his case on social media.
Engel is co-founder of the Dutch organization “Viruswaarheid” (“Virus Truth”), which is challenging the legality of COVID restrictions implemented in the Netherlands.
He first was arrested last month and detained for two weeks before being released on bail.
Engel is one of two well-known European activists arrested recently for speaking out against COVID mandates and lockdowns. The other, French attorney Virginie de Araujo-Recchia, serves on the international grand jury convened as part of the People’s Court of Public Opinion, co-founded by German attorney Reiner Fuellmich.
The People’s Court aims to reveal “crimes against humanity” committed in the name of public health and combating COVID.
French lawyer detailed on suspicion of connections to ‘terrorism’
According to Libération:
“[T]he lawyer [Araujo-Recchia] is one of the seven people arrested yesterday ‘in a terrorist case linked to the figure of the conspiracy circles Rémy Daillet.’
“A judicial source confirmed … that seven police custody [sic] were in progress at the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) ‘for acts of association of terrorist criminals with a view to preparing crimes against persons.’ They are five men and two women, aged 36 to 62.
“Among those arrested would also include Sylvain B., a ‘yellow vest’ author of a ‘manual of peaceful insurrection’. AFP [Agence France Presse] specifies that searches were carried out during the arrests.”
French newspaper Libération described Daillet as a “neo-Nazi” and “a figure in conspiratorial circles already implicated and imprisoned” in a kidnapping case, who is also accused of being the mastermind of a group “planning violent actions … against 5G antennas, vaccination centers, but also against journalists and various personalities.”
In addition to serving with Fuellmich on the People’s Court grand jury, Araujo-Recchia is involved with similar issues domestically within France, working with three organizations that are attempting to levy criminal charges against politicians who, in 2021, voted for legislation strengthening COVID-related restrictions.
Working with three other lawyers, Araujo-Recchia filed a complaint on behalf of three associations: BonSens.org, AIMSIB [International Association for Independent and Benevolent Scientific Medicine] and the Collectif des Maires Résistants [Collective of Resistant Mayors], targeting French members of parliament who, on Aug. 5, 2021, voted for legislation implementing vaccine passports and requiring French workers to receive a COVID vaccine.
Araujo-Recchia and her legal team alleged these parliamentarians received favors in exchange for their vote and that the law itself violates French and international law. They presented a series of arguments against this legislation.
She also was said to be working on a new complaint, to be filed against French political parties and some of their members, at the time of her arrest.
In November 2020, Araujo-Recchia authored the Dictatorship Report 2020, published by France’s Genocide Observatory. This report was said to be intended to form part of a new set of criminal charges to be filed against members of the French government.
Following her arrest, Health Freedom Defense Fund posted an online petition calling for her release.
On March 30, Araujo-Recchia issued a press release describing her ordeal and time in detention. She clarified she is not facing any charges at this time, stating:
“[O]n 22nd March 2022 at forty minutes past six in the morning (06:40), twelve individuals including hooded commando officers, entered our residence on board six vehicles and pounded at the front door.
“The team was made up of various security-agency members, notably from the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (DGSI, more or less equivalent to MI5), a representative of the Paris Bar (Bâtonnier du Barreau de Paris), a Clerk of the Court and two investigation-magistrates. Without striking a blow, they entered our residence and searched each and every room including our children’s room, our vehicle and the garden.
“On suspicion of being an accomplice to terrorism, I was then removed to DGSI premises at Levallois-Perret.
“There, I was held for roughly sixty hours under conditions that can only be described as inhuman. For reasons of personal dignity I shall refrain from elaborating further.
“On being released from custody, I found that not a single charge would be raised against me, nor was I even a suspect (témoin assisté). In a word, I am no party to the matter.
“Apart from being amongst the lawyers instructed by an individual who has been charged, my involvement with the case is nil.
“Would it not have been simpler to call me in, rather than carrying me off in front of the children and detaining me under grotesque conditions – when at the end of the day, there being nothing to reproach me with, it proves to be but a fishing expedition?
“Innocent until proven guilty did you say?”
In the press release, Araujo-Recchia also claimed that during her interrogation, which lasted 10 hours, she was asked the following questions in an apparent attempt to smear her as a “conspiracy theorist” and racist, and to connect her to alleged “terrorist” activity:
- Are you a patriot?
- What does the term “conspiracy theorist” refer to?
- Your view of Islam?
- Your view of Judaism?
- Your view of 5G?
- Your view of pedophilia?
- Your view of the Freemasonry?
- Might there be [government] ministers with ties to pedophile networks?
- Your view of [French President] Emmanuel Macron?
- What measures have led you to assert that crimes against humanity have been perpetrated?
- What is meant by “New World Order”?
Responding to this line of questioning and media reports about her connections to “terror” suspects, Araujo-Recchia wrote:
“Various press outlets have referred to a ‘terrorist file’, and to my name as a ‘lawyer representing individuals in conspiracy-theorist circles’ or ‘extremist cells,’ The libelous nature of that particular mixture being perfectly plain to all and sundry.
“Trust that I shall not let the business drop: we are dealing with outright libel and intent to harm. I shall moreover exercise my right to respond.
“The investigator asked me to set out my ‘ideology’ in broad strokes. I replied that it has nothing to do with an ideology, but rather with plain facts backed by evidence which I have been at pains to collect over the past two years.
“The International Court of Public Opinion and the Grand Jury, inter alia, have held hearings at which there testified acknowledged international specialists in science, medicine, psychology and psychopathology, economics, geostrategy, as well as victims past and present.
“For my part, I have taken testimony from victims, health-care workers, French firemen and present[ed] it to the Grand Jury.
“No ideology is being served up here, but rather expert opinion, professionals, witnesses and victims.
“Truth alone is the goal we seek.”
Araujo-Vecchia also noted that lawyers and doctors, as well as activists such as members of the Yellow Vests, “are subjected to similar forms of intimidation, as they attempt to raise the alarm over certain measures designed to manage the public-health ‘crisis’ or harm incurred through the experimental gene-therapy shots,” adding:
“[T]here are those of us who, having confronted the State and major financial interests such as the pharmaceutical-, finance- and MSM multis, find ourselves being in custody without cause.
“None of this will prevent my fighting for civil rights and liberties.”
France, beginning in 2020, enacted some of the most stringent COVID-related restrictions in Europe, including vaccine passports to enter most public and private venues.
In January, French President Emmanuel Macron, who is running for re-election, said he is continuing implementation of such passports because he wanted to “piss off” the unvaccinated.
Dutch activist detained for 14 days on charges of ‘incitement, sedition’
In an incident remarkably similar to Araujo-Vecchia’s arrest, Dutch activist Willem Engel, co-founder of the “Viruswaarheid” (“Virus Truth”) movement, on March 16 was arrested on charges of “incitement” and “sedition.”
Engel was outside a polling location immediately after he had voted in that country’s elections. His lawyer, Jeroen Pols, immediately confirmed the arrest in a tweet, while Engel’s girlfriend captured the arrest on video.
Zojuist werd Willem Engel aangehouden door de politie voor ‘opruiing’. Het regime Rutte zet de volle aanval in op critici en oppositie. Ondertussen een grote mond hebben over de democratie in Rusland. Hij zit op het Marconiplein Rotterdam#willemengel #dictatuur.
— Jeroen Pols (@JeroenPols) March 16, 2022
Mainstream media reports, which described Engel as a “COVID denier,” reported he is “suspected of posting seditionist coronavirus-related statements on social media over an extended period,” quoting statements from the Public Prosecution Service (OM) of the Netherlands.
The OM in January announced that Engel was being investigated following a petition, signed by nearly 23,000 individuals, calling for him to be charged with sedition, spreading medical misinformation, fraud and making threats.
The petition was launched by an “activist,” Norbert Dikkeboom, in 2021.
The initial investigation into his actions led to Engel’s arrest, the OM said in a statement.
The investigation identified seven social media postings, made by Engel between June 2020 and June 2021, which “were considered to be incitement,” and which, according to the OM, “led to other people committing criminal offenses or incited them to do so.”
The OM did not name the specific social media posts or the alleged criminal offenses that the posts allegedly incited.
As stated by the OM, while freedom of speech is a “fundamental right” that is enshrined under Dutch law, “there are limits to that freedom.”
In January, Engel characterized the investigation as a “smear campaign” against him and proclaimed his innocence. “I try to keep the debate sharp but never cross the line,” Engel said. “I’ve never threatened anyone.” He went on to accuse Dikkeboom, the activist who launched the petition against him, of stalking him.
Engel’s lawyer, Jeroen Pols, called Engel’s arrest “a frontal attack on critics and opponents” of the “Rutte regime,” referring to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. He added in later statements that Engel’s arrest is part of an ongoing pattern of arresting individuals who “criticize the regime.”
“The Rutte regime is fully attacking critics and opposition,” Pols said. “Meanwhile, they have a big mouth about democracy in Russia.”
In turn, the group Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth) described the arrest as an instance when “the Dutch government crossed a new line in its war against unwanted opinions and expressions.” The group accused the OM of, along with Dutch police, actively assisting Dikkeboom in his petition against Engel.
Viruswaarheid claimed that, in the past year, more than 420 articles and media reports smeared Engel “with slanderous lies,” as a result of “[a]n unprecedented hate campaign from the entire written and spoken media” that contributed to the collection of the more than 22,000 signatures on the petition against Engel.
In a separate statement, Viruswaarheid wrote that Engel “had drawn attention to [the Dutch government’s] Corona policy with his ‘Virus Truth’ initiative and has successfully fought the government measures in court on several occasions.”
Viruswaarheid in April 2020 launched petitions and demonstrations against the Dutch government’s COVID restrictions.
The group also filed two successful lawsuits “against the illegal corona measures,” which led to the laws in question being amended, in an effort by the Dutch government to sidestep these legal defeats.
Following Engel’s arrest, a demonstration took place in Amsterdam on March 20 calling for his release.
Engel, who holds a master’s degree in biopharmacy and biotechnology and operates a dance school in Rotterdam, was released on March 30 after being detained for 14 days.
He faces two upcoming court cases. He spoke to The Defender about his experience and the charges he is now facing.
Engel told The Defender he was arrested “in front of the voting booth … right after I cast my vote, two thugs with masks handcuffed me and told me I am under arrest for sedition … this is in clear violation [of Dutch law] on so many angles.”
According to Engel, he was not informed about the specific social media posts that led to the charges against him. Instead, “they [the authorities] just named the offense.”
Engel described Dikkeboom, the organizer of the petition against him, as “a sad person that stalks me,” adding, “I have made multiple charges against him … as he is openly calling for violence against me.”
Engel said the OM “shared a lot of information” about his case with Dikkeboom, describing this as “crazy” in light of Dikkeboom’s alleged threats against him.
As a potential motive for his arrest, Engel points out that Viruswaarheid has filed “over 20 cases against the government and its institutions,” adding that “there is a spree of arrests, all [with] the same signature, people being accused of threatening violence or vandalism or sedition,” and who are facing “vague charges.”
According to Engel, “almost all of the arrests are against people who have a following and who vlog regularly about demonstrations and COVID.”
Engel said such arrests and crackdowns are “happening also in Germany and Canada and probably all western countries.” He described this as “clearly the next phase of oppression, trying to take out the resistance in preparation for the next COVID ‘wave’ set for September 2022.”
However, according to Engel, the authorities “got more than they bargained for” as a result of his arrest, pointing out that “lots of people were rallying … more than 10,000 physical postcards were sent to the prison [where he was held] … #Freewillem was trending on Twitter [on] multiple days.”
Engel said he now faces two separate court cases with the “same line of charges,” which he describes as “very vague.” Court hearings are scheduled on June 13 and June 20 in The Hague and Rotterdam, respectively.
Despite his ordeal, Engel said he is “in good health and the fight has just begun.”