Updated: November 22, 2020 10:35:33 am
A virtual meeting of defence minister from the European Union (EU) was briefly halted after a Dutch journalist managed to gatecrash the confidential video call.
The reporter, Daniel Verlaan of RTL Nieuws, said that he gained access to the call after Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld accidentally posted the first five digits of the six-digit pin code needed to join the online meet, BBC reported.
— Ank Bijleveld (@MinBijleveld) November 20, 2020
It did not take Verlaan many attempts to crack the code as he found himself onscreen with several of the EU’s top ministers, including foreign policy chief Josep Borrell — who appeared to be caught off guard by the intrusion.
— Michiel van Hulten (@mvanhulten) November 20, 2020
Verlaan appeared visibly surprised and began waving enthusiastically when he realised that he had been let into the call. “You know that you have been jumping into a secret conference?” Borrell is heard asking the journalist in a video of the conference shared widely on social media.
“Yes, yes. I’m sorry. I’m a journalist from the Netherlands. I’m sorry for interrupting your conference,” Verlaan’s responded, to laughter from the ministers in the background. “I’ll be leaving here.”
“You know it’s a criminal offence, huh?” Borrell joked, suppressing a smile. “You’d better sign off quickly before the police arrives.”
nieuws: ik kreeg toegang tot een geheim online overleg tussen de Europese ministers van Defensie van de 27 landen.
— Daniël Verlaan (@danielverlaan) November 20, 2020
But not everyone took the incident lightly. A spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Council told RTL News that the breach would be reported to the authorities, BBC reported. Meanwhile, a Dutch defence ministry spokesperson said tweeting the pin had been a “stupid mistake”.
“This shows how careful you should be careful when sending a picture of a meeting,” they said. Along with a photograph of Dutch Defense Minister Bijleveld’s laptop screen, where her other EU counterparts were visible, a part of the pin had also been accidentally shared from the minister’s account.
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