Washington: Unidentified assailants threw Molotov cocktails at journalist Willem Groeneveld’s home in the Netherlands on Thursday.
The motive for the attack, which took place in the city of Groningen at 2:45 a.m. local time, was unclear, but Groeneveld had previously been harassed for reporting on issues involving real estate and landlords.
No one was injured in the attack, and reports quoted the journalist as saying that he awoke to the sound of breaking glass and was able to put out the fire.
Media organizations said they were upset by the attack, which took place a month after veteran crime journalist Peter R. de Vries was shot dead in Amsterdam.
“It is a very sad year for journalism. This attack with the firebomb on Willem could have ended very differently,” Thomas Bruning, head of the Dutch Association of Journalists, told local media.
Thursday’s attack was not the first for Groeneveld, who founded the investigative website Sikkim and is a contributor to the daily regional newspaper Dagblad van het norden.
In 2019, attackers threw stones through the windows of a journalist’s home, and on another occasion someone posted Groeneveld’s address and phone number on Facebook. According to local reports, in June, around 30 bicycles were left outside the journalist’s apartment after he reported that a businessman was taking bikes from around the city.
Police announced on Friday that they have two suspects arrested on charges of arson and attempt to murder.
The Netherlands holds one of the best records for press freedom, ranking 6th out of 180 countries with 1 being the most free, on an annual index by Watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
But the recent attacks and the deadly July shootings are related to rights groups, including the International Press Institute and the European Center for Press and Media Freedom.
The arson “represents another serious attack on media freedom in the Netherlands,” many press freedom group said in a joint statement.
“This is an attack on Willem Groeneveld, but also on the entire Dutch journalistic community.”
Media groups called for a “rigorous investigation” behind the increase in attacks on journalists.
The Netherlands is not the only EU member state to experience violence and deadly attacks on the media this year.
In April, Greek police reporter Giorgos Karaivaz was murdered outside Athens, in what officials have said they believe was a contract murder.
same month, Committee to Protect Journalists Police in Greece arrested three people on suspicion of being involved in an alleged plot to murder investigative journalist Kostas Vaxvenis, the report said.