The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) has reached a settlement with imam Youssef Arkhouch over the wrongful collection of data about his person. The NCTV confirms this on Thursday following a press release from Arkhouch’s lawyer. The settlement was preceded by a legal battle of more than two years in which the imam demanded that the NCTV delete data about his person, plus a rectification. The NCTV saw the founder of Muslim Rights Watch as a “Salafist instigator” who would keep Muslims “from integration and inclusion in Western society,” a session revealed in late 2020.
Lawyer Bisar Cicek of the law firm Schouten Legal conducted various proceedings on behalf of Arkhouch against the NCTV, which refused to provide access to the data provided by the service and did not want to delete it. Under the settlement, according to the lawyer, all of Arkhouch’s data has now been removed from the counterterrorism coordinator’s systems. The more than twenty municipalities and government agencies with whom the NCTV has shared Arkhouch’s data have also been informed and requested to delete the data as well. “The legal costs incurred by Arkhouch will also be reimbursed and the State will pay him non-material damages,” the law firm said. When asked, a spokesperson for the NCTV would not say anything about the content of the settlement.
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‘Name has been cleared’
Arkhouch said in a statement that he was relieved that after more than two years of litigation, his proceedings against the NCTV have come to an end and says that he has “nothing to hide”. “In the past, because of that misinformation, it was said that I would contribute to radicalisation. All my data at the NCTV will be deleted and will no longer be shared. My name has now been cleared,” said the imam, who further writes, among other things, that the Dutch government “can also make serious mistakes”. In response to the case, law firm Schouten Legal set up a hotline for persons who are disadvantaged by information collected and provided by the NCTV.
NRC revealed in October that at least ten municipalities in recent years commissioned a private research agency to under cover to research mosques in their city – which is not allowed. The investigations were paid for by the NCTV, under the responsibility of outgoing minister Ferd Grapperhaus (Justice and Security, CDA). The findings of the investigation ended up in a secret report in which the administrators, imams, teachers and their relatives and contact persons were described. The NCTV said on Thursday that it has received “more GDPR requests” since this reporting and is currently processing them.
In April, it also emerged that the NCTV had been collecting privacy-sensitive information about citizens via social media for years, in violation of the law, and then disseminating it. A bill to legitimize this working method was declared controversial by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and will therefore not be discussed under the current caretaker government.
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