The Hague — The district court of The
Hague banned on 14 December 2015 the book De doofpotgeneraal (‘The Cover-up General’), that
recounts an internal battle within Dutch military intelligence. The verdict
is front page news in the Balkans, and is met with anger and disbelieve.
Author Edwin Giltay is appealing the verdict.
In March 2014, Edwin Giltay submitted his
manuscript to the Dutch Minister of Defence, who did not object to publication.
Eight months later, De doofpotgeneraal was published in Amsterdam.
Almost one year after the release, Edwin Giltay
was summoned. Military analyst Caspar ten
Dam: ‘I was in the
courtroom with Edwin Giltay when the case against him and his book by a
former officer of Dutch Military Intelligence (MID) was formally discussed.
A few weeks later I heard that his book was banned, to my utter astonishment
– and Edwin’s of course. Books are hardly ever banned in the
The ex-spy claims that she is falsely described
in The Cover-up General.
Journalist Eric van de Beek: ‘I was present at the trial. The MID-lady did not bring a
shred of evidence backing up her claim that what Giltay wrote is
The court, nonetheless, banned the book as the
surname and age of the former officer are allegedly stated incorrectly in
the publication, and she was not offered the chance to respond to it in
advance. However, the fact is the spy spelled her name in various ways in
official documents. As a result, author Edwin Giltay – who uses in
his book the same false spelling as used by the Armed Forces – was
unable to trace her to hear her side of the story. So he went to the
Defence Minister, who is responsible for the protection of the identity,
reputation and safety of her (former) spies – she did not object to
In intelligence circles, such spelling mistakes
are made on purpose. The small variations help create confusion about the
identity of Dutch secret agents, as Giltay already explained on page 171 of
The Cover-up General. The judge
however – who admitted she’d only read parts of the book
– fell for this little spy trick. One disputed vowel let to the ban.
Caspar ten Dam: ‘Edwin’s book
– only published in Dutch at this stage – deals amongst other
things with the famous photo roll showing war crimes in Srebrenica in July
1995 that was ‘accidentally destroyed’ at a lab of Dutch
Military Intelligence Service, and with accounts that Giltay heard that
the photo roll may not have been destroyed after all, but kept somewhere in
secret … For that reason alone, his book is of national and
international significance. And (the implications of) his account urgently
requires further independent research and, if necessary, legal proceedings
against those who have participated in this cover-up.’
Although most attention in the Dutch and foreign
press goes to Srebrenica, the book describes at heart an infighting within
Dutch intelligence. The Cover-up
General offered a disconcerting glimpse into a world where espionage,
blackmail and the unauthorized use of resources are the order of the day,
but is now covered-up itself.
Edwin Giltay lodged with his lawyer Jurian van
Groenendaal his appeal against the censorship verdict at the Court of
Appeal of The Hague. The court session at the
Palace of Justice took place on 25 February 2016. The new verdict is expected
on 12 April, or earlier.
Note: The censorship court cases are described in detail in the eight new
chapters of the second edition of The
Cover-up General brought out in