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Friday 19 December  
Geert Wilders - about to stand trial (photo ANP)
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Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Wilders on trial: who's funding his defence?

Published on : 18 January 2010 - 12:49pm | By John Tyler
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The long-awaited trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders begins this week. Charged with inciting hatred, Wilders could be facing several months – or even years – of court hearings. But Wilders is not independently wealthy, so where will he get the money to pay for his defence?

Geert Wilders sees no need to disclose the source of his funds, as he has explained:

“I don’t know why anyone should know. The one thing that’s important is that the lawyers’ bills should be paid. Where I get my money and from whom is nobody’s business.”

Wilders trial: the run-up

Geert Wilders at Ground Zero
  • In 2007 and 2008, the Public Prosecutor’s Office repeatedly decided not to bring charges against Geert Wilders. The Supreme Court confirmed these decisions in 2008;
  • In January 2009, an Amsterdam court charged Wilders with inciting hatred toward Muslims and racial discrimination;
  • Last week the court added a charge of inciting hatred toward Moroccans.

However, there is a public interest involved in how and where Mr Wilders raises money. He is already an influential figure in Dutch politics, and that influence looks sure to grow. For ten months now opinion polls have consistently shown his Freedom Party to be one of the largest in the Netherlands. So, voters may be curious as to who is backing him financially.

Across the Atlantic
An important source of funding for his legal defence comes from supporters in the United States. He has travelled there frequently: showing his anti-Islam film Fitna, giving speeches, accepting awards. And raising money.

Neither Mr Wilders nor many of those involved in organizing fundraisers for him are prepared to indicate how much money he has raised.

Daniel Pipes
, director of the Middle East Forum, has raised money for Geert Wilders’ legal defence through The Legal Project.

“The Legal Project engages in various efforts for individuals who talk about this bundle of issues: Muslims and Islam. Wilders is one of those that we have helped both financially and in other ways. I have helped him in terms of law and in terms of fundraising. But I can’t tell you amounts… It’s not my concern.”

Although Mr Pipes is not prepared to talk in more detail about money raised for Wilders, he has told a Dutch magazine that Wilders raised a six-figure amount during a recent US trip.

"Great personal risk"
Another enthusiastic supporter, Pamela Geller, writes a blog called Atlas Shrugs.

“It’s not a business, it’s a calling. People who support Wilders: it’s a calling… it’s respect that somebody’s standing up at great personal risk. At what is arguably one of the most dangerous crossroads in human history.”

Robert Spencer, another blogger, is also a familiar face at Wilders’ events in the US. His blog Jihad Watch  also solicits money for Wilders’ legal defence.

The blog includes the following message from the Freedom Party: “The Freedom Party (PVV) and Geert Wilders are faced with an all-out assault. Exploding legal expenses might cripple the continuation of the battle for our liberties. The survival of the Freedom Party and Geert Wilders’ struggle for the defence of the West are now in jeopardy.”

Send money
Readers are asked to send money to a bank account of the Friends of the Freedom Party Foundation. This is the same foundation which funds Freedom Party* activities.

Apparently, Mr Wilders has not set up a separate foundation for his legal defence. According to Dutch daily de Volkskrant, Mr Wilders instead re-wrote the statute of the existing Freedom Party foundation to include his legal defence. This would mean there is no division between donations for Mr Wilders’ personal legal defence and the Freedom Party’s political activities.

This is hard to prove. Neither Mr Wilders nor the Freedom Party provide outsiders access to any financial information. Nor do they have to. Dutch law governing funding for political parties is quite lax.

Done nothing wrong
Ruud Koole is a professor of political science at the University of Leiden and an expert in party financing. He says neither Mr Wilders nor his Freedom Party has done anything wrong.

“The income from parties can come from any source. Even from a foundation that has received the money for other purposes. As long as you don’t receive state subsidies, you are not obliged to disclose it.”

So, under Dutch law, funds raised for Mr Wilders’ legal defence could be used for Freedom Party purposes.

Greco, an anti-corruption body and part of The Council of Europe, reprimanded the Netherlands in 2007  for the lack of transparency regarding political donations. A new law governing political parties and how they are financed is in the making. But as it now stands, Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party have very few limits on how and where they can raise money. And he has no obligation to reveal his money sources.

* The Freedom Party does not receive state subsidies and gets no membership fees because Geert Wilders is the only member. The party is entirely dependent on its own sources of funding.
 

Discussion

Froggy 20 November 2011 - 12:06pm / France

One thinks what one wants about Geert Wilders, but he channels islamo-skepticism into a peaceful track. Reactions are becoming more and more agressive:
In order to prevent a Swiss mosque being built, pieces of pork have been scattered or buried in the ground

In Spain:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw4efflXQP0
In France
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir2CVORbo8M
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXcllu9T_kg
A sport getting accrued interest; burning or sullying a koran
http://rutube.ru/tracks/4984540.html?v=3c23879c84188cd9658fc3e3dc543c80
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSavdgs-RbU&feature=related
Spreading in Denmark:
http://catholicforum.fisheaters.com/index.php?topic=1558665.0

A "euro-regionalist" group, the "Bloc Identitaire" had broadcast the muezzin call to waken up the inhabitants of a neighbourhood of Bordeaux and warn them about the project of a mosque building:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFqY2vBOEt0

jays 24 June 2011 - 1:08pm

He is an influential political figure, so people have the right to know where he got the money from otherwise they might think of something like corruption. Transparency is the key in politics, it's the only way to gain people's trust, if he can't figure out this he isn't going to last for long. It's about his character, I doubt someone like Aaron DelSignore for example would have anything to hide, but that's just on opinion.

Silverz 26 April 2011 - 12:27pm / Austria

I think he is doing what he thinks best for his country even though his beliefs might clash with other people's goals/beliefs as well. I wouldn't hold it against him.

Alexa - cfds consultant.

Sunshine 10 February 2010 - 7:17am / Singapore

So, this is about Islam.. have you ever think what would life be if you were born in Islam family? I bet you have a different vision about this religion. Or have you ever think what would life be if you really.. really fall in love with someone who has Islam as their religion? Well, I bet you would walk out and leave Netherlands because your soulmate is not welcome there. Or, what would you say if one of your children wants to marry with one of Islam people.. Would you still say the same words SJVP? Hate won't help us to make the world as a nice place to live.. won't bring peace in our heart either.
The differences are beautiful, if we can appreciate the others..
I am an asian woman and my religion is Islam, my husband is a beautiful Dutchman.. we have a beautiful daughter too.. But don't worry SJPV, my family won't hurt you with BAD COMMENT like you did.

Slapshot 26 January 2010 - 4:19am / Canada

Well SJVP, you were kind enough in your last remark to illustrate that the free speech yourself and other Geert supporters desire, comes in the form of a monolithic one-party state. Although the issue at hand is who is funding Geert's legal defence, a second part of the question has to be included asking who will pay the cost of all this should Geert be elected PM? The answer to that part would be the democratic society in the Netherlands which rests on multi-party representation of the political spectrum in the Netherlands. It is too bad that when Geert quoted Thomas Jefferson, the case prosecutor did not respond with Abraham Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand". It would not surprise me that Geert one day will become the Dutch PM. However, to carry out his intentions, he will have to attempt to dismantle the Constitution and state instutions of the Netherlands, in order to shape and facilitate the legal code he would need to enable his policies to be enacted. Before this can happen though, he and his supporters will be in for more than a fight, with the counrty as a whole suffering for it. By the way, I live in Canada, so this will make it a little difficult for even more than tirades to expel me from the Netherlands. No doubt yourself and Geert will think of something. David Berridge.

user avatar
SJVP 25 January 2010 - 1:29pm / Nederland

`Thank you Riet. I couldn´t agree with you more. Wilders has the majority of the Dutch support, so those of you who don´t like this very much loved politician that we the citizens of this country choose out of our own democratic right, you are free to go back to your parents country or your country and have your own rules applied to your own liking. Thats right, you can have all the sharia laws you want and keep your women in Burkas, and build all the Mosques, minarets, you want to have on your own land,in your home country and nobody will bother you there. You can call your entire country to prayer without us Westerners complaining about you or how many minarets you built on our western lands, or how loud You can blast the speakers when you call the country to prayer so that The louder the call is for prayer, the more it scares the farts out of Satan! We love Geert Wildres, Geert Wilders has my vote and anyone who talks against him is SCUM, AND SHOULD LEAVE, WE DON´T WANT YOU HERE!

Hiram 25 January 2010 - 5:46pm

"We love Geert Wildres, Geert Wilders has my vote and anyone who talks against him is SCUM, AND SHOULD LEAVE, WE DON´T WANT YOU HERE!"......SJVP, I think Wilders is probably a very nice person with very good intentions. I believe he is right about the threat of Islam towards Western values and to anyone who disagrees with it's totalitarian dogmas but I believe he hurt a lot of innocent people when he wanted to tax religious, head scarves. He, being a person of political influence and power, used his ploy of taxing head scarves to bring Islam to the pubic's attention and therefore not to lose focus of Islam's threat. What he did was to cause fear and anxiety to innocent humans who only wanted to live their lives in peace. I really don't think Wilders or any person should be put on trial for publicly speaking and writing their opinions, especially if it is against a system that threatens the rights of those who disagree with it. Wilders is right and he is innocent of his charges but I believe anyone who speaks out against him has just as much rights as Wilders and are not what you called "Scum." If Wilders has a right to free speech so do the Scum. Wilders is not on the docket in the Netherlands. Free speech is!

user avatar
freespeech 25 January 2010 - 1:19pm

David Berridge said: "The Netherlands' electorate should be on it's highest alert that their next general election is being bought at least in great part with foreign coin." You have a source to back up this assertion?

That "Geert is exploiting non-existent party funding laws" is BS considering the practice of four other political parties in Holland that have consistently met un-registered lobbyists (working for firms/groups that are not in the Commission's lobbyists' register). There's also an ongoing dispute between the Socialist Party and the liberal D66 about the links of D66 MEP Sophie in 't Veld with industry lobbies, as for example through her membership of the European Parliament Financial Services Forum (EPFSF), a banking industry lobby platform. Pot calling kettle black.

Eurocrats, political funding and elections in the EU are not exactly transparent either. Since Holland is part of the EU and gets shaped by laws promulgated from Brussels, for someone to complain Wilders breaking a non-existent law is laughable. The complaint against Wilders is political, not about a legality.

user avatar
Riet 25 January 2010 - 8:28am / Australia

I believe that the Dutch are behind Geert Wilders 100%. Nobody has the right to prevent a Dutchman speaking out in his own country against those who neither appreciate or value the lifestyle, history or traditional culture.

viola7 25 January 2010 - 5:54am / USA

Mr Wilders is free to have an opinion, wether is about Islam or anything else-and I think we all are. Mr Wilders has to go free, otherwise, we all has to shut up for the rest of our life and ignore the misbehaves of Islam!

Slapshot 23 January 2010 - 6:10pm / Canada

Dear Sandrav and Willempie, please look again at the second to last paragraph of this article. The existing vaccum and loopholes which currently exist in the party funding laws in the Netherlands, are under formal review so as to be uniform with those already in place elsewhere in Europe. Geert is taking advantage of the present situation, and thereby exploiting it to his own ends. He is not breaking the law but using what it lacks to hide where his support actually comes from. How many pro-Muslim parties would you defend along these same lines if nearly all their finances were coming into the Netherlands without public scrutiny from sources in the Middle East? As supporters of Geert, you are both emotionally caught up in this trial situation, which in turn is clouding the better judgment of yourselves and many others. Canada does and always has operatede it's justice system under the principle of being innocent before being found guilty. This is very much different from Geert, who has in his political diatrabe, found over one million people guilty simultaneously in the Netherlands with no formal charges laid against them by the judiciary. Don't worry about Geert, he has the best legal defence that foreign funded money can buy. Whatever the verdict he will make political capital of it. It is very interesting that Geert, in his own defense, quoted former US President Thomas Jefferson about the eternal vigilence needed to maintain freedom. Jefferson did father children from a slave woman whom he had on his estate. This in stark contrast to what Geert is against today. Geert's own words and reasoning may come to haunt he and his supporters as being flawed and distorted, not those words and reasoning of my own. Take a good look again at what the PVV is doing and stands for under the complete one-man control of Geert, and think this through thoroughly. If you still come to your original conclusions that you are comfortable with, then you are fine with ignoring my comments. Otherwise what is so worrisome that you have to attempt so one-dimensonally to discredit them? David Berridge.

user avatar
freespeech 25 January 2010 - 12:23pm

Wrong Slapshot. You haven't paid much attention to details yourself of what Wilders has actually stated many times about his views toward Islam. Like most people who have a problem with this trial, Geert Wilders is not against Islam per se but against Sharia law. If you don't understand what sharia law entails I suggest you learn about it from a neutral source, not from a source with an agenda. You said: "... Geert, who has in his political diatrabe, found over one million people guilty simultaneously in the Netherlands..." No he has not. If you have been paying attention for the last five years or so you will know it's sharia law that is causing the problem in Holland and for the cartoonist in Denmark. One of Wilder's positions are — stopping immigration from jihad-sponsoring nations, shutting down mosques that preach violence and expelling their imams. If you cannot understand the simple reason for this then one has to give up on you.

Have you heard of Vlaams Belang in Belgium? This group has an unabashed record of inflammatory rhetoric and hateful, opportunistic verbal viciousness of all sorts; a few years ago, for example, the party announced an advertising campaign in Moroccan newspapers and magazines to “discourage foreigners from coming to our country.” See, it's okay for them to come to Holland or Belgium, but Europeans, or infidels, are not welcome in Muslim countries, there is no free speech there.

What Wilders is fighting for is freedom of speech which is eroding in Holland and the rest of Europe as well as your country if you've been paying attention. Any criticism or skeptical statement against a religion like Islam is reprimanded and worse. Draw cartoons of Allah and you can expect some fanatic will want your head. Name a teddy bear Allah like one teacher did in a Muslim country and they call for her death.

Free speech in Holland is under fire not only in the Wilders case. The Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) wants to silence Ehsan Jami, a Muslim apostate who is a local Labour politician in Leidschendam-Voorburg. The 22 year old Jami intends to establish an international organization of ex-Muslims. An internal memo sent to Labour parliamentarians and ministers, shows that the party fears that Jami’s campaign will cause it electoral damage and enrage Muslims. The Dutch press revealed that Jami received hate mail from PvdA executives. European leaders quake in their shoes for fear of insulting anything Islam ... in a democracy a free press is essential, without it you don't have a democracy. People like you who have no understanding of the issues of Islam in Europe or the why the PVV has gained such popularity in Holland. It is people like you who are "one dimensional". I suggest you look in your neck of the woods concerning the censoring of anyone criticizing the religion Islam. One can criticize Christianity all they want yet not Islam. If you don't know why this is, learn.

willempie 23 January 2010 - 2:05pm

@David Berridge "Geert is exploiting non-existent party funding laws in the Netherlands to get away with this." That is a remarkable way of reasoning. If you do something that is perfectly legal, because there is no law that prohibits it, than you are " exploiting non-existent laws to get away with this. "

I suppose that in Canada your are guilty unless you can prove that you are innocent ?

...And Justice ... 19 January 2010 - 5:22pm

We sould not Judge the religion no matter what religion it is, we should Judge people themselves we notice if a Muslim man or woman do something bad the media says : a MUSLIM MAN/WOMAN terroris did that and that so they start mentioning the religion First to make it always sound BAD in front of the audience on the other hand if a Christian or whoever else from other religions do something bad the media say for example a man from that place and that country did that and that and according to his or her doctor he or she suffer mentally. they say that just to protect the religion and the western world, isn't is a big discrimination? the Justice is to mention All countries religions or All countries names but not for some people mentioning religion to make it worse and for others mentioning only names, Good people are in All countries and bad people as well so let's judge people and not the religion and for Mr Wilders he doesn't understand a thing is religions and he pre-judge fast and stupidly in more meaning he is there only to put more oil in the fire instead of participating in peace and hamrony between people all over the world we are all humans no matter what religion or place so let us leave in peace and harmony and love

sandrav 19 January 2010 - 8:24am

David don´t be so utterly ridiculous! Wilders can get donations from whom ever he chooses and that is none of yours or anyone elses business!

Blue Planet 18 January 2010 - 11:36pm / Milkyway

Mr. Wilders is correct and he should get a chance te become the PM of The Netherlands. In historical perspective development the Dutch came from Mr. Hein (greatest pirate of the North Sea), through masters of trade in slaves (transporters of black Africans to the Americas, VOC mentality), the colonials of Indonesia, Suriname, Antilles etc. to the greedy bankers with hugh bonus at the moment. This mentality should have a followup at the moment. Suppose 20% of the Dutch population supports Mr. Wilders, that is about 3 million people with this mentality. Mr. Wilders is the DUTCH leader and the DUTCH face for all the others countries in our galaxy.
Vote for Mr. Wild en make him Emperor of our Galaxy. Good luck Mr. Dutchman.

David Berridge 18 January 2010 - 4:11pm / Canada

Geert is exploiting non-existent party funding laws in the Netherlands to get away with this. The Netherlands' electorate should be on it's highest alert that their next general election is being bought at least in great part with foreign coin. His financial support should come only from verifyable sources within the Netherlands, and the records made available for public review. Changes to the electoral laws will definately have to come from this episode. If Geert wants freedom of speech, then allow for the freedom of information to accompany it so that voters will know who really is attempting to shape the political will and government of the Netherlands.

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