Suspensions for alleged computer hacking
been temporarily suspended from their jobs, Social Affairs Minister
Piet Hein Donner announced Tuesday.
The decision follows news reports that staff members of the social
affairs ministry's communication department allegedly hacked into the
computer system of the GPD press agency and tried to manipulate its
GPD is an independent news agency which provides news to regional
and local newspapers in the Netherlands. The two civil servants who
allegedly hacked into the GPD computer were both former GPD employees.
They are said to have used the username and password of a former
colleague to break into the GPD computer system. This gave them access
for over a year to unpublished stories, as well as to the news
service's internal agenda.
Donner did not say how many staff had been suspended but said he
"deeply regretted" what had happened. The minister stressed he had not
been aware of the actions of his staff and added he has launched an
investigation into the affair.
Late Monday night the GPD announced it would file a complaint about the hacking with the police.
Meanwhile Parliament has requested the minister to clarify the
matter. The opposition parties green-left Groenlinks and socialist SP
have announced they will confront Donner in Parliament on Tuesday.
Meanwhile the public prosecutor in The Hague said it is necessary to
wait for the results of the current investigation before deciding
whether or not to file a criminal suit against the suspended ministry
The GPD first discovered that the social affairs ministry was hacking its computer system on 19 October.
That day, a GPD journalist sent the communication department of the
ministry a story about the latest developments in the government's new
redundancy policy. He requested the spokesman to verify a few facts.
The spokesman, however, did not reply. After the deadline had passed
the journalist sent the story to the GPD editors, who prepared it to
put on the wire. Before the story was officially published, the
ministry's chief spokesman suddenly called the GPD to respond to the
Interestingly, the spokesman did not react to the version he had
been e-mailed many hours before, but to the yet unpublished and