The man who has been stalking WUR for a several years with threatening emails, tweets, Facebook posts and phone calls should be locked up if nothing else stops him, demanded a lawyer representing WUR in court last week.
WUR seeks a restraining order of unlimited duration, with a financial penalty for non-compliance. But the institution has little confidence that the stalker, a 32-year-old man from Arnhem, will comply. So lawyer Joost Becker of the legal firm Dirkzwager is also demanding imprisonment if the stalker seeks contact again. If he makes more than 10 attempts, he could then go to jail for a while.
According to Becker, this is an unusual demand, but WUR has no alternative. ‘This is a case of systematic harassing of staff, students and directors.’ Among others, staff at the Student Service Centre, are feeling very threatened, says Simon Vink, spokesperson for the Executive Board. ‘We want this to stop.’
The harassment started in 2016, when the man tried to register as a student. He was rejected because he did not meet the admission requirements. He then began to send emails and messages on social media, which became more and more threatening as time went on. It led to extra security measures in some buildings, especially the Student Service Centre.
The stalker tried to register 18 times, each time for a different degree programme. In the past couple of years, he has sent more than 3750 emails, 2544 of them last year alone. That is an average of seven per day, but there were days when he sent 120 emails. In total, he has approached more than 100 people at WUR, having found their addresses on we@wur, a largely public online Who’s Who for WUR.
A restraining order is already in force. One day after the court hearing, the man was handed another restraining order in a legal case against him, which is also about threatening behaviour and stalking. The stalker was banned from the campus two years ago, says spokesperson Vink, but it is difficult to know whether he has respected it, as hardly anybody knows what he looks like. The verdict on the case will be delivered on 14 March.