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Dutch counterterrorism official's trial for alleged data leak to Morocco begins

A Rotterdam resident who worked at the Dutch Counterterrorism body is accused of having allegedly shared state secret documents with Morocco. His trial started Wednesday in the Netherlands.

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A Moroccan man residing in Rotterdam, Abderrahim El M., is on trial for an alleged espionage case that would have been involving the Moroccan secret service. He had previously worked at the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV).

During the first hearing on Wednesday, February 7, the Dutch public prosecutor stated that El M. would have been in possession of nearly 1,000 classified documents, some of which he would have allegedly shared with the Moroccan intelligence agency, Direction Générale des Études et de la Documentation (DGED).

Authorities apprehended El M. at Schiphol Airport in October 2023 while he was traveling to Morocco. At his home, they would have reportedly found an astonishing 300 data carriers, containing a staggering 65 terabytes of data (roughly equivalent to 11.5 billion A4 pages).

«An insanely large number», remarked the Dutch prosecutor, calling it «a monster job to investigate», as reported by De Telegraaf.

Furthermore, investigators revealed that El M. would have been carrying several data carriers during his arrest. He reportedly made frequent trips to Morocco and would have allegedly held meetings with the Moroccan secret service, according to the Public Prosecution Service.

Printing classifed documents

Dutch intelligence and security services claim having discovered the names of four DGED employees who had allegedly contacts with El M., and these contacts would have also been found on his phone, reported the Dutch newspaper.

For the record, the investigation began in October when Dutch intelligence agencies reportedly learned El M. might have printed and taken home classified information from work. El M. is facing a prison sentence of fifteen years.

In fact, CCTV footage would have allegedly shown El M. printing classified information from NCTV systems and placing them in his bag. «The count now stands at 928 state secret documents, of which 345 were from the AIVD and 65 from the MIVD military intelligence service», said the official.

El M.'s lawyer, Bart Nooitgedagt, maintains his client's loyalty to the Netherlands, according to De Telegraaf.

This alleged espionage case could further strain relations between Morocco and the Netherlands. In recent years, both countries have attempted to move past a period of diplomatic tension arising from Dutch criticism of the Moroccan response to the Hirak Rif protests.

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