A Dutch journalist gatecrashed a secret online meeting between some of the European Union’s (EU) top diplomats after the Netherlands’ Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld leaked entry details to the meeting.
She posted a photograph on Twitter of herself attending the meeting without realising she would be uncovering five of six numbers of the secret code needed to access the meeting.
Tech journalist Daniel Verlaan was able to join the virtual conference after he found the missing number, prompting a stunned Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, ask him who he was.
“I’m a journalist from the Netherlands,” Verlaan introduced himself. He apologised for the disturbance after being asked by Borrell if he knew that he was in a secret meeting and then left the video chat.
“Je weet dat je deelneemt aan een geheim overleg van de Raad Buitenlandse Zaken?”, aldus de Hoge Vertegenwoordiger Josep Borrell tegen me.
Dit gebeurde er toen ik de camera inschakelde (audio): pic.twitter.com/99bbNuMsTu
— Daniël Verlaan (@danielverlaan) November 20, 2020
Verlaan shared video on Twitter showing the final moments of the interruption, with Borell asking bluntly in English:
“You know that this is a criminal offence?”
The journalist explained in a Twitter post how easy it was to gain access to the secret defence meeting of the European Union, which has 27 member states.
“I got access to a secret online meeting between the European defense ministers of the 27 countries,” he said. “Minister Bijleveld shared a photo of the meeting with part of the pin code, which could be guessed with a few tries.”
“Brussels stated in advance that it was not possible to participate with just the pin code, there would be extra security. They lied.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, taking note of the incident, said: “This shows once again that ministers need to realise how careful you have to be with Twitter.”
Later, the Defence Ministry termed her sharing the picture a “stupid mistake” and the Twitter photo was removed.