Intelligence Expert Ben de Jong Discusses Thierry Baudet and Russia on Dutch Television
On 16 April, an edition of Zembla, the Dutch documentary programme produced by BNNVARA, investigated the connection between Thierry Baudet, leader of Dutch political party Forum for Democracy and the Kremlin. Ben de Jong, visiting lecturer at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, was interviewed for this episode. De Jong also works as a researcher in the field of intelligence agencies at the Dutch think tank Clingendael Institute.
During the episode of Zembla it was suggested that Baudet or his party have received financial support from Russian actors to promote anti-Western and anti-NATO propaganda. According to De Jong the Russians are trying to find like-minded Westerners to help them destabilise the West from the inside. 'I won't say that Baudet is a puppet from the Kremlin,' claimed De Jong, 'It's also possible that he's simply an utterly naive man'. Yet De Jong found it difficult to understand the motives behind Baudet's behaviour.
'That would be to the advantage of Russia'
As part of their research, Zembla spoke to several sources surrounding Baudet allowing them to gain access to sensitive information, namely the WhatsApp groups used by Forum for Democracy. Names of a journalist and a political expert are mentioned who turned out to have professional connections with Russia, namely Kronilov and Laughland. They were interviewed by Zembla regarding their relationship with Baudet. Zembla also interviewed Henk Otten, fellow-founder of Forum for Democracy, who accused his colleague of improper relations and behaviour. Otten even showed messages he sent to Baudet warning him about his relations and confronting him with his anti-NATO agenda. 'That would be to the advantage of Russia,' commented De Jong on Baudet's request to leave NATO.
During the episode, the Zembla team provided more details from their file on Baudet and Russia, with Ben de Jong subsequently giving his opinion as intelligence expert.
Dutch newspaper NRC has also written a summary article. You can read the full article (in Dutch) here.