Man who threatened Dutch minister gets 6 months in prison

FILE - Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag speaks with the media as she arrives for a meeting of eurogroup finance ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Jan. 17, 2022. A man who stood outside the home of former Dutch foreign minister Kaag waving a burning torch and shouting threats was sent to prison Wednesday, Jan. 19 for six months, Dutch media reported.(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, file) (Virginia Mayo, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

THE HAGUE – A man who stood outside the home of a former Dutch foreign minister shouting and waving a burning torch was sent to prison Wednesday for six months, Dutch media reported.

Threats aimed at Dutch politicians have increased in recent years amid a polarization fueled by the pandemic and lockdown measures. Prime Minister Mark Rutte last week called such intimidation “completely unacceptable.”

The suspect, identified as Max van den B., was detained two weeks ago outside the home of Sigrid Kaag, who is now a vice prime minister and finance minister in Rutte's new ruling coalition.

Kaag was attending a debate in parliament during Wednesday's hearing at a courtroom in The Hague and sent a written statement, she said on Twitter.

“Threats and intimidation of public figures is poison for our democratic constitutional state,” Kaag said in her statement. “We must, with each other, protect our democratic values.”

National broadcaster NOS quoted the judge as saying that Kaag “was not a random target. You had to have her because of her political role, because of her ideas that you don't agree with. But this is not the way. If you don't agree with a politician's ideas, vote for somebody else or show your disapproval in a peaceful way.”

A woman who livestreamed the Jan. 5 incident outside Kaag's home was given a 4-month prison sentence.

NOS quoted Van den B as telling the court: “I support the video and the torch 100%. I didn't threaten anybody.”

His lawyer had sought Van den B's acquittal, saying that he did not threaten Kaag.