Latest: Dissident Dutch author A.H.J. Dautzenberg alleges serious malpractice on the part of Tim Ballard in his new exclusive: Gruesome Consequences of a Hysterical Witch Hunt, in which mistreatment of his friend Marthijn Uittenbogaard and his partner is also exposed. Both remain incarcerated in Ecuador on trumped-up charges. Legal process has recommenced (see updates).
Essay:The Gruesome Consequences of a Hysterical Witch Hunt
The following is a mirror of an article originally titled De gruwelijke gevolgen van een hysterische heksenjacht, which appears on the website of Dutch writer A.H.J. Dautzenberg. We provide an English translation of it here, in the interest of maintaining a copy of this important journalism. The opinions reflected in this article are those of A.H.J. Dautzenberg who is unaffiliated with Newgon Organization.
February 5, 2023
In Ecuador, two Dutch men have been detained under appalling conditions for almost eight months, two men with a pedophile orientation. They still don't know exactly what they are suspected of and they haven't seen a judge yet. I think I know them well, consider them friends. My impression is that they are innocent.
In recent months I have tried several times in vain to interest the quality media in the case, also to encourage them to put an investigative journalist on it. In particular, the role of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and that of the Free a Girl pedo hunter club (and its dubious American partner Operation Underground Railroad) should be critically examined; in my view they create a toxic climate that smothers any nuanced discussion in advance. The word "child pornography" is used far too lightly and just a little too eagerly by them – all shutters are immediately closed.
I believe I have followed the (long run-up to the) arrest relatively objectively, but perhaps my view is clouded by fear, anger, disappointment and friendship. That's why I hope for help.
One of the media I approached indicated that it was "not a newsworthy story". The editor-in-chief of an opinion weekly emphasized that a sensitive subject such as pedophilia cannot be treated from the perspective of two detained pedophiles – "Who says they are innocent?" Another reaction: "It would make me very uncomfortable to post this piece." The overall tone in a nutshell.
Below is the essay I wrote – it consists of two parts that alternate between a more or less journalistic report, and my personal thoughts, although the distinction is sometimes difficult to make. I have my personal thoughts.
Set aside your gut reaction that tries to take over your feelings, and don't judge too quickly; smoke does not always mean fire, after all, smoke machines do not need to be on fire. Take up the challenge, if you will. Vulnerable minorities deserve protection, not a witch hunt. That is good for everything and everyone.
Ten years of Mart[h]ijn
The zeitgeist dictates which topics may or may not be discussed. For example, pedophilia. Nevertheless, it is still important not to shy away from an "unmentionable" subject; by exposing insensitive mechanisms, future victims can be spared. Moreover, freedom of expression is sacred in our country. Or so I thought.
At the moment, two Dutch men have been detained in Ecuador under appalling conditions for more than six months, and they have not yet seen a judge. It is still not entirely clear what crime in particular they are suspected of. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not interfere with the legal process and the Netherlands does not have an embassy in Ecuador. A hopeless situation, they fear for their lives.
The run-up to the arrest of the two men started in 2011, with an attempt by the Public Prosecution Service to ban the association Martijn, founded in 1982; The ball starts rolling then. After years of intensive investigation, no criminal offenses had been uncovered, so according to Minister of Justice Opstelten (VVD), only civil law could offer a solution.
In the early 1980s, the VVD regularly approached the Martijn association for advice on the subject of pedophilia. In 1986, then-VVD-minister Korthals Altes submitted a bill to lower the "age of consent" law from sixteen to twelve years. He referred, among other things, to scientific studies that indicate that sex with minors is not necessarily harmful.
The JOVD – (left-liberal) Mark Rutte, who was also a member at the time and would become chairman two years later – just like the Young Socialists in 1986, signed a petition for the change in the law. The law passed in a slimmed-down version, but it was then abolished at the beginning of the new millennium. In the early years, the roots of the Martijn Association therefore received political support, especially from the VVD.
By 2011 things had completely changed. In November of that year, in the run-up to the court case to ban the Martijn association, VVD minister Opstelten publicly expressed the hope that the court would issue a ban. Which was strange to say the least, because a minister is not allowed to give his opinion on a case that is still before the courts. The left and right both agreed with Minister Opstelten's statement that the association should be banned.
Tofik Dibi (of GroenLinks) said during the same parliamentary debate: "The Martijn association is an association of dirty little men, with dirty points of view, that arouse disgust and revulsion. My gut says: lock them up and throw away the key." And Madeleine van Toorenburg (CDA) stated: "How is such a disgusting association allowed to exist." At the time, Pieter Omtzigt regularly referred to "Martijn's victims" in his tweets. Mind you, ten years of investigation by the police and the Public Prosecution Service had not resulted in any criminal charges.
For more than ten years I have studied the subject of pedophilia, a distinction in sexual orientation that I believe should no longer be made, and should be eliminated. And let's not beat around the bush, I was terrified. The hatred that wins over the facts, the myths that are devoured like candy, the denial that follows any hint or suggestion, the opportunistic role of politics and especially that of the Public Prosecution Service. With regards to this topic, all good sense and logic seems to have disappeared, and the only reaction is a visceral one.
Even before the legal process began, I decided in 2011 to become a member of the Martijn association in order to start a dialogue and put an end to the escalating witch hunt; a pedophile is a human being, not an undesirable scourge – which unwelcome minority is next? A side effect was that not much later I could follow the court case in Assen both externally and internally. "Your career is over," tweeted some cynical fellow writers with apparently mocking pleasure.
For the record, I keep repeating it out of necessity: I am not in favor of sexual contact between adults and children. I do think that people with a pedophile orientation should be allowed to dream and fantasize about it, and that they should be allowed to speak and write about their desires – and that they (just like the VVD in 1986) should be allowed to argue for a liberalization of the legislation regarding sexuality.
In fact, I am convinced that openness and transparency will lead to greater understanding, and to a mutual understanding. An innate disposition does not disappear by publicly condemning it. Not in Iran, not in Russia, not in Hungary and not in the Netherlands. An estimated one hundred and fifty thousand people with pedophilic feelings, men and women, live in our country. Get used to it. Talk to them, don't banish them to the dungeons of society. And understand that approximately eighty percent of child abuse actually takes place within the immediate family, by "opportunistic paedophiles".
So in 2011 I signed up as a member of the Martijn association, which was founded in 1982. I attended meetings, talked to members and advised the board. At the end of 2011, a child and adolescent psychiatrist e-mailed me the following: "Thank you for your contribution to the quest that we as a society must undertake. Not a nonsensical black-and-white opinion, but a nuanced story." Various statements of support from that quarter followed, but the senders added that they did not dare to express their opinions publicly.
In May 2012 I represented the association before the court in Assen. At the time, I tried repeatedly to talk to MPs, but I couldn't get any response. Other members of the Martijn association also tried this, and they were also ignored.
The "Yuck" Factor
The lawsuit would ultimately be heard in Assen, on May 16, 2012. The Public Prosecution Service had to make it plausible that (the activities of) the Martijn association are "contrary to public order". Both in the petition and in the closing requisition, the Public Prosecution Service claims that the Martijn association poses a serious danger to children in the Netherlands. "The ideas and the way in which these are expressed must be seen as a serious threat to the physical and sexual integrity of the child."
The Public Prosecution Service had formulated a criterion for testing texts and images that had appeared in the association's magazine and on the site since 1982: the "yucky content". Especially the texts from the early years of the association were judged with a high yuck content. The Public Prosecution Service included a review that former senator Edward Brongersma (PvdA) wrote in the magazine about Kees Verheul's novel A boy with four legs, published in 1982 by publisher Van Oorschot. "Apparently intended to be sexually arousing," suggested the District Attorney. (Apparently intended to be sexually arousing - just how does one measure that?)
The following poem on the site was also given a high yuck content by the Public Prosecution Service:
I would love to
Sail with you in a boat
Kiss you Your body against me
I caress in my dreams
Everywhere I want to go
And you like it
Thoughts are free
It's a cliché
But what I just wrote
Is only one chance in a hundred
We live in a world
Where such things can't be
Fantasizing is cool
And it can't hurt anyone.
On June 27, 2012, the Martijn association was banned by the court. The press reacted to the verdict. NRC Ombudsman Sjoerd de Jong thought it too subdude: "On June 27, the court in Assen banned the association Martijn, which wants to represent the interests of pedophiles. That was remarkable news, but the newspaper did not comment on it. Now you don't have to do that with every news event, but you would expect it regarding this one. That seems entirely in line with the liberal principles of the newspaper: after all, it is [not about the words but] about the deeds."
The Martijn Association appealed to the Court of Appeal in Leeuwarden. The Public Prosecution Service argued that the appeal should be declared inadmissible, because an association that has been banned no longer exists and can therefore not appeal. The court did not agree with this and ruled in April 2013 that there was no threat of social disruption and that the association could therefore not be banned. According to the court, society should also accept expressions that are widely abhorred. Moreover, the statements and behavior of Martijn are not punishable, the court emphasized.
The Public Prosecution Service then submitted this judgment to the Supreme Court for review. It decided on April 18, 2014 that the association should be banned immediately, because it goes contrary to public order. According to the Supreme Court, it is necessary as this is a very special case, in the interest of protecting the health and the rights and freedoms of children. "These social views are also widely supported outside the Netherlands, and the Netherlands has committed itself internationally to taking measures in that regard." So Brussels was watching.
The lawyers Gerard Spong and Sidney Smeets then approached the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Marthijn Uittenbogaard. At the beginning of 2015, it announced that it would not consider the appeal. The reaction of Spong and Smeets: "We see this decision as a case of evading the giving of a legal opinion on a socially sensitive legal question. And therefore a lack of courage. In a resilient democratic society it is precisely the unpopular opinions that should be protected. Freedom of expression is only meaningful if it also (or especially) protects unpopular opinions. Even opinions that not everyone agrees with and that some even find offensive."
At this point, the Martijn Association is definitively banned, including the association's website, but former chairman Marthijn Uittenbogaard is told by the Public Prosecutor that he may continue the website privately. He decides to concentrate on his websites www.brongersma.info and www.marthijn.nl (with an h), which he started in 2001, renaming a site he started a quarter of a century ago.
As a private person, Marthijn Uittenbogaard continues to fight for discussion about and the seeking of approval for intergenerational relationships. He does this mainly by collecting information on pedophilia and paedosexuality on his websites, information in the broadest sense of the word, including studies that emphasize the potentially harmful effects of paedosexual activity.
His activism and the ruling of the Supreme Court have caused Marthijn Uittenbogaard many problems: there have been threats, rocks and paving stones have been thrown against and through his windows, lit fireworks have been left in his mail box, a fireworks bomb was left on his doorstep – the list fills dozens of pages. In addition, he says he is shadowed by the police and his phone is wire-tapped.
Over time he has decided not to leave his home in Hengelo; he spends his days playing video games for hours on end and maintaining his web sites. He has had plexiglass fitted to the windows of his house and he installed security cameras, which the police had refused to do, despite several requests from him.
Former Martijn figurehead Marthijn Uittenbogaard and his partner Lesley have become friends of mine over the years and I trust them. Not out of naivety or misplaced loyalty, but as a result of frank conversations and a thorough study of the facts – and the many lies that have been spread about them. I haven't seen any hard evidence to date that confirms that either has committed any crimes.
I kept in touch with the two men for the past ten years – two passionate, sweet, gentle people. When I stayed with them a few years ago, I saw what the isolation did to Marthijn. Like a shy little bird, he sat in an almost blinded house, glued to his almost life-size game screen. Lesley tried to remain anonymous and went to work in a warehouse every day. In his spare time, a convinced vegan, he devoted himself to the necessary charitable institutions. I saw two fellow sufferers who loved each other very much.
The day was coming for an attack to be made on Uittenbogaard. It would be in a morning in 2020. A 41-year-old man from Spakenburg entered the house of Marthijn and his partner Lesley early in the morning, ran up the stairs, entered the bedroom and threatened to stab Marthijn to death with a fish-boning knife. A friend who is staying over heard the noise, intervened in time and knocked the knife out of the hands of the man, who was standing next to Marthijn's bed.
The man fled, but was arrested shortly afterwards. He was released the same day, but he was banned from the vicinity. A lawsuit followed. The man did not have to go to prison; the judge gave him 150 hours of community service.
The man, who had already been hospitalized eight times for bouts of manic-depression, claimed that he entered the house because of media reports he had heard, which stated that a children's room with dildos had been found in Marthijn's house and that Marthijn's partner had been arrested on suspicion of engaging in child abuse.
At the time of the attack on Marthijn I had been in touch with the people who had been in contact with Marthijn, and even more so around the time of the raid and the arrest of Lesley. Marthijn is still convinced that his partner was arrested at the time in order to intimidate him, and to silence him. He wrote to me: "I saw my partner being taken away on a completely fabricated charge. The extensions of the pretrial detention were outrageous. As his partner, I was also not allowed to attend the sessions allegedly due to measures taken due to the corona virus pandemic. But journalists were allowed to attend! The only thing they had against my partner was that he was "the-partner-of". On that, and on based on the lie that his parents did not want him to be released, his pretrial detention was repeatedly extended. That was outrageous!"
In 2020, a house search took place at the house of Marthijn and his partner Lesley. This was legally sanctioned by the authorities suspecting Marthijn of having committed "sedition"; the Public Prosecution Service referred to statements on its websites and in the media. Lesley was arrested during the house search, then confined in isolation for ten weeks and then only released after six months.
The OM revealed that Lesley was suspected of having "prepared to kidnap and rape a child." The OM also reports that a children's room was found within the house of Lesley and Marthijn and a studio in the garage to make child pornography. Sex paraphernalia, including dildos, were found in Lesley's bedroom. And according to the Public Prosecution Service, a Stanley knife, lubricant and anesthetic tablets were found in his backpack, which indicated he was preparing to commit that crime.
The OM kept Lesley hanging for two years. At the end of April 2022, the case finally went to court. The charge of "preparing to kidnap and rape a child" had disappeared from the indictment, as had charges concerning the possession of dozens of images of child pornography. According to the Public Prosecution Service, there were no indications of the existence of a "children's room," nor of a studio to make child pornography.
Lesley (like his colleagues) needs the Zip ties and the Stanley knife for his work – he is a warehouse worker. The "lube" was actually a jar of Working Hands cream - the skin of his hands is cracked because of his physical work. The so-called "anesthetics" were actually magnesium pills he used to numb the recurring pain in his leg muscles, a consequence of Lesley's veganism.
The charge against Lesley has been reduced by the OM to "making and possessing child pornography". The petition from the prosecutor: one year in prison, four months of which were to be suspended. Lesley was sentenced to ten weeks in prison. (He was held in pre-trial detention for six months.) From the verdict: "The suspect is found guilty of making a film containing child pornography. The suspect filmed the bare buttocks of an underage boy with sexual intent." ("With sexual intent" – how does one measure that??)
Lesley had been making family films for a family of friends for years. During one of those filmings, one of the children mischievously dropped his pants for a moment. The Public Prosecution Service has cut that image from the video and submitted it to the court as "child pornography". A letter submitted by Lesley's lawyer, in which one of the parents wrote that Lesley was innocent and should be immediately released, is ignored by the judge.
Lesley attempted suicide twice after his release and still continues to struggle with depression. His employer, neighbours, the voluntary associations he had been involved in and many of his friends no longer want anything to do with him. He suddenly has to go through life with a criminal record stating that he has been convicted of producing child pornography. Lesley won't appeal because, mentally, he can't handle that stress.
Lesley sent me the notes that he had made while in detention. I read the poignant and above all disconcerting text with horror.
I thought they mistook me for someone else and I could probably clear that up. I have never abused children and never will. Just the thought of hurting children makes me sad. I regularly burst into tears about the simplistic reporting made about me. The mother of the child is also being seen as responsible by those around her for supposedly having made children available to a pedophile who, according to people, abuses children. I sometimes spontaneously bursts into tears. Both the investigation and how the people around her have reacted to it in response to news reports have deeply damaged her. I have not abused children and do not intend to. The Public Prosecution Service and the police have abused people in this case, including children, and the damage to them is immeasurable and lifelong.
Continuing the Association
The raid on the house of Marthijn and Lesley appears to be a direct result of an investigation by RTL Nieuws ["Radio Television Luxembourg News," a popular Dutch television news service]. According to them, this went on undercover for several months within a private email list "in which the Martijn Association is still active". In that group, according to RTL, tips were also given on how abuse children. But for the record, the email group was not closed, and non-pedophiles and (even undercover) journalists could also join it.
RTL also placed an attention-grabbing statement on its web site: "A pedophile is a person with sexual feelings for children under the age of 13. Pedophilia is a sexual preference and is not punishable in the Netherlands. Sexual abuse of children, together with viewing and downloading child pornography, is punishable by law. That is not always done by pedophiles: a majority of child abusers do not have pedophilic feelings, but suffer from antisocial and sexual disorders."
In 2021, partly on the basis of the RTL investigation and the house search, the Public Prosecution Service decided to prosecute three people for continuing the banned "pedo club Martijn": Nelson, Norbert and (the figurehead) Marthijn – all three without any previous criminal records. Nelson was acquitted, because he had never been a member of the Martijn association. The other two were sentenced to prison terms. Norbert was sentenced to four months because he helped Marthijn with the technical maintenance of the sites. Marthijn received a six-month prison sentence, without the possibility of parole, after which he appealed his sentence.
A quote from the judgment regarding Marthijn dated 8 March 2022. "Together with his co-defendant [Norbert], the suspect has continued the activities of the banned association Martijn by posting publications on various websites and making statements via a mailing list and Twitter."
According to the court, the views expressed on the sites correspond to those of the banned association. The fact that the opinions expressed are largely quotes from politicians and scientists is not mentioned in the judgment. Moreover, it is reasonable that the views are in agreement; Marthijn (born in 1972) became a member at the time because he recognized his personal convictions in the ideas of the association founded in 1982.
The verdict continues with this striking passage: "It does note, however, that this ideology cannot be equated with child abuse or incitement to it. The fact that this was or would have been the case has not been evident in the proceedings that led to the prohibition of the Martijn association. The suspect has also never been convicted of sexual offenses (or any other offense)." And then a prison sentence of six months was imposed.
Because Marthijn and Norbert were convicted for continuing the Martijn association, I decided to take action together with former university lecturers in sexual citizenship Gert Hekma (deceased 2022) and his partner Mattias Duyves, emeritus professor "Meindert Fennema" and writer Delphine Lecompte. The last paragraphs of an op-ed that we offered to all respectable media:
A society that is genuinely concerned with the interests and safety of children is not content to create and then brutally destroy demonic symbols. It invests heavily in youth care and education, it ensures that the Supplement Scandal children removed from home are reunited with their parents as quickly as possible, it does not allow children to grow up in dire poverty, it does not allow reports of child abuse and abuse to be filed for months, sometimes even years on the shelf, and it does not leave children who have fled from war zones to fend for themselves.
Finally, last month, the majority of the House of Representatives approved the addition of 'sexual orientation' as a non-discrimination ground in Article 1 of the Constitution. The proposal is now before the Senate. A conscious choice was made for the term 'orientation' (gerichtheid) and not for 'sex' (geaardheid). The reason is that legally the term "orientation" (gerichtheid) only represents so-called consensual orientations. This excludes people with a pedophile orientation. The idea behind it: if they would give concrete expression to their focus, they would be guilty of criminal offences. The government also suffers from prejudice. [The law has now been passed, AHJD.]
To protest against the witch hunt for pedophiles, we are taking action: from now on we will take over the site www.brongersma.info from Marthijn Uittenbogaard. This is to prevent the rich archive he has built up over the past decades from being destroyed. If Uittenbogaard is acquitted on appeal, the site will be his again. (Norbert de Jonge will not appeal, he no longer trusts the judiciary.) If Uittenbogaard is convicted for expressing his opinion – which we cannot imagine, we expect an independent, careful approach from a judge – then we will look for a suitable host for the archive. Initially we are thinking of the COC or the IHLIA.
Stop criminalizing people with a pedophile orientation. Talk to them, protect them, help them, listen to them – everyone benefits from that. And above all, don't interfere with freedom of expression.
The piece was rejected by all the respected media we approached.
Because Marthijn and Lesley no longer have a (safe) future in the Netherlands, they decided to emigrate to a country where life is cheap. They eventually choose Ecuador because they could buy an old hotel there. The plan was to open a vegan restaurant on the ground floor, to make apartments in the rest of the building, and to rent them out.
They called in local construction workers for the renovation. Some (paid) villagers have also come to help. Meanwhile, their children played with Marthijn's PlayStation, a luxury they cannot afford. Nelson visited and rented a room, but Lesley turned him away; his alcohol and drug use and fatalistic attitude could put them in danger. Nelson left for Mexico.
Norbert, a friend of Marthijn for more than twenty-five years, comes along a few months later, as does a (straight) friend. They soon leave. They think it is unwise that village and construction worker children freely walk in and out of the house. In addition, ominous reports are beginning to appear in the local media.
The hotel, its new owners and their visitors have been on the radar of paedo hunter Tim Ballard of O.U.R. (Operation Underground Railroad) and the Dutch organization Free a Girl. The latter decided to track down the men after their emigration and called O.U.R. in.
Tim Ballard is a conservative Mormon, a fanatical Trump and QAnon supporter, who, with his organization, hunts alleged pedophiles (supposed "networks") and pro-abortion activists worldwide. He also fulminates against the LGBTIQ + community; according to him, only straight relationships are godly. His organization raises many millions annually, without it being clear exactly where the money goes.
In addition, several investigations against him and his organization are ongoing; he is suspected of incitement, lying about actions of O.U.R. and spreading conspiracy theories about "pedo networks." He claims to have saved thousands of children from criminal (paedo) organizations, but there is no evidence. Nevertheless, his influence is growing. He is friends with several (populist) heads of state.
Algemeen Dagblad wriote about Marthijn's arrest on June 24, 2022: "The convicted and since-then fugitive paedosexual Marthijn U. from Hengelo was arrested in Ecuador on Thursday evening. The fugitive pedophile Lesley L. was also arrested." Het Parool wrote that same day:'Marthijn U. is said to have been arrested after a manhunt.' For the record, Marthijn Uittenbogaard is not a paedosexual and he was not a fugitive.
Continuation of the message from the AD: "In Ecuador, the well-known pedophile Lesley L. was also arrested that same Thursday. [Absent] Lesley L. was sentenced in Rotterdam on April 26, 2022 to 10 weeks in prison for producing child pornography. L. was now under arrest in the seaside resort of Canoa, for suspected abuse of three young children in his home. The organization Free a Girl had passed on incriminating information about the three men to its American partner Operation Underground Railroad and the authorities of Mexico and Ecuador." For the record, Lesley was not a fugitive either; he was working at the hotel at the time of the arrest.
Het Parool further wrote: "According to Free a Girl, several children regularly stayed in the house of L. and U. They would have been lured to play video games with the story. In exchange for sweets and money, they would have had to provide sexual services. Parties are also said to have been organized with children at the swimming pool, where children were touched and sometimes raped under the influence of drugs. There would be abuse of dozens of children."
I also kept in touch with Marthijn and Lesley when they tried to build a new life in Ecuador. Marthijn let me know in the beginning that he was terrified that someone would find out their identity; they avoided places that (Dutch) tourists visited.
A few minutes before Marthijn was arrested, I contacted him through a mobile phone app. He was on his way to the Netherlands to reconsider his situation there and to prepare for the appeal. His last message: '"'We haven't done anything, but there are lies everywhere on the internet. Norbert also had problems, I think I will, too, at customs here. Fascism. I'm listening to the song Wonderful World at the airport. It's not the Louis Armstrong version, but a cover."
A few days after the arrest, the first ominous messages began to reach me. Marthijn and Lesley had been tortured and beaten with hammers in prison by the mafia. The videos of this were sent to acquaintances, along with ransom demands. If no payment was made, the men would be killed. That money for the ransom was put together by some friends, and then transferred to the mafia through on-line pay sites.
A few days later, Lesley emailed me:
"Marth and I came to Ecuador with the goal of starting a new life. Without activism. A life where we could just walk down the street. And we could just make friends with people. Many people know that we are innocent and have said so themselves. However, those statements were not in writing. We still need a lawyer. So he can take down the statements and bring them in. The beatings stopped a few days back, but you never know if they will start again."
I got some photos of the cell and of the courtyard. And of the men, too. The photos didn't make me happy. Marthijn in particular looked terrible: he was skinny and sad. Lesley, despite his bruises, seemed to be doing better. He wrote me that he wants to donate the hotel and restaurant to a vegan movement and then, with the proceeds, his friends and the poor people from the village can be helped.
More is now becoming clear about the arrests. Several reports had appeared in the local media, each time with the name "Tim Ballard" appearing in them. The hotel had (according to him) housed an international network of pedophiles, of which Marthijn and Lesley were the leaders. Hundreds of children were (supposedly) drugged, abused and sold for sexual purposes. "Sex parties" with children were (supposedly) regularly held in the hotel's swimming pool, something Free a Girl claimed as well. For now, it is enough to note that Marthijn and Lesley's hotel does not have a swimming pool at all!
Ballard ramped up coverage of us in the months following our arrest. He claimed in films that he had tracked down and liberated more than four hundred victims in the home of Marthijn and Lesley. He emphasized the conviction of Lesley (production of child pornography) and the case against Marthijn (continuation of a prohibited association). The snowball is keeps increasing in size as it rolls along.
Due to the coverage in the Ecuadorian media, the two men were transferred for security reasons to a secluded part of the prison, and they have a room they have to share with seven drug addicts. A lawyer is now in the picture, who keeps in touch with a family member of Marthijn.
After a while, Marthijn and Lesley managed to arrange a lawyer. She asked for thirty thousand euros to bribe the judge and the police. A day later this amount was increased to one hundred and sixty thousand euros. Maybe she too was threatened. The fact that communication took place via Google Translate did not make it any easier: the lawyer barely speaks English.
Together with the family member with whom the men were and are in contact, I decided not to take up the family member's offer, perhaps it was a trap. Fortunately, the family member got in touch with Lesley via the prison telephone, and he and Marthijn also wanted no illegal "hanky-panky", but they wanted a fair trial. The lawyer gave in, but she had to have money to do research and prepare the case.
Martijn and Lesley were now back in contact with their fellow villagers. They heard from them that Tim Ballard was paying the media to write the menacing reports. Reports also reached Martijn and Lesley that Ballard had paid witnesses to give false statements; if they refused - these friends had pointed out that Lesley and Marthijn were innocent - he threatened them with trial and imprisonment. They also heard that Americans in contact with Ballard were offering money to have them killed.
According to the lawyer, the first session, without Marthijn and Lesley, was halted by the judge; he wanted more money for him and his secretary. He also threatened to transfer the men to another prison if payment was not made.
The tone of reporting in the Ecuadorian media has become even grimmer. The newspapers and web sites claim that Ballard has exposed the largest international pedo ring ever known. Not much later, Lesley and Marthijn were suddenly transferred to the most notorious prison in the country, the Guayaquil Prison. According to the lawyer, there were plans to hang Marthijn and Lesley in their cell and call it suicide. That explains the move.
Dutch lawyer Sidney Smeets tried to bring the case before the Ministry again, but that was not successful. He did get the addresses of three law firms that are "probably" not corrupt. Both the men's relative and their lawyer tried to call them in, but the lawyers wouldn't take the case: there is too much negative coverage in the media.
The extortion (asking for bribes) started again, as Lesley and Marthijn had become a "lucrative business model". Whenever I saw the area code for Ecuador on my cell phone screen, I wouldn`t answer the phone. The family member also stopped responding. Finally, the attempts at extortion stopped.
An "influential" fellow prisoner informed Lesley that he had brought them to Guayaquil because he wanted to use them for a prisoner exchange with the Netherlands. Whether that is true, we do not know, but Marthijn and Lesley were "safe" again. The lawyer indicated that he needed more money for the investigation, so we transferred money again; always in small amounts, so as not to arouse suspicion - Ecuador is known as a "suspect country" and business transactions are therefore prohibited.
During that time, Lesley sent us the following email:
"Our lawyer is very bad, and probably a fraud. She has cost us more than U.S. $20,000 and the trial hasn't even begun yet. People here say she's a con artist. She recently applied to transfer us to Bahia, even though she knows that it is not safe for us there. Again, she did not consult with us first. And she had already indicated that she was no longer our lawyer. Also, this recent filing supposedly costs a few thousand dollars more. This country is all about extorting money, stealing money, blackmailing, and cheating."
Nevertheless, Marthijn and Lesley generally did not sound bitter in their messages. I received many touching messages and texts, and the name Gandhi regularly appeared in them. Marthijn and Lesley advocate for peaceful protest, not hatred towards their enemies. And in believing what you stand for.
Other messages, on the other hand, were pretty grim. "Two days ago 14 dead. Prisoners have machine guns, pistols, knives, etc. We hear the fighting, shots and loud explosions, but they are at a another location, not far away."
And this one, about a fellow villager: "Then comes a statement from G. who says "the police keep harassing me, I want this to stop. The police insist that I make false statements about Lesley. They offered me money to do so, and also things like a TV and a refrigerator. I saw that they also tried to bribe my sister, too."
Lesley also told me that the person who tortured him and demanded a ransom in the first prison they stayed in has recently been murdered. And this: "The lawyer who had claimed to be from the mafho had asked for absurd amounts of money to help us get out of prison was also assassinated two months ago."
Meanwhile, Tim Ballard received a national award from the wife of the president of
Mexico[Ecuador - Newgon] for dismantling "the network" of Marthijn, Lesley and Nelson. It's unclear what happened to Nelson. However, it is suspected that Ballard set a trap for him and was present at Nelson's arrest.
In any case, when Lesley was arrested, Ballard was conspicuously present, dressed in a police uniform and equipped with a machine gun. His team filmed the spectacular arrest; the footage will be featured in a documentary that Ballard plans to put online in March 2023, "The Hidden War". He claims online that he intends to visit the Netherlands, among other places, to promote it.
The men have not yet seen a judge; without their being involved in the process, their detention has been extended several times. They still don't know exactly what crime they are suspected of having committed. Marthijn emailed Amnesty International about their case, and also about the lawsuit that is still pending in the Netherlands. The Amnesty spokesperson replied: "We do not focus on individual cases, but on situations where criticism (from the media, political parties, activist groups, lawyers and investigative committees, etc. etc.) of the authorities are deliberately and systematically blocked (as in China for example)."
I emailed Evelien Holsken, from Free a Girl, and their spokesman, Arjan Erkel, who was once an innocent prisoner himself. I explained to them the situation in Ecuador, including the information about their partner, Tim Ballard. I indicated that I wanted a constructive conversation with them, and not one full of accusations. I got no response from them. It is likely that Holsken and Erkel are not pleased with the legal case that Free a Girl has brought to the public's attention with such bravado, which has put the men in fear of their lives.
De Telegraaf interviewed Tim Ballard at the time. In response to the text submitted to him via Sidney Smeets, Lesley wrote, as I mentioned, that he is in close contact with friendly villagers:
I heard that the children were detained by the police for 24 hours when I was arrested. And that they were repeatedly threatened with being beaten with batons. When they were hungry, they were not given food. Police were eating in front of the children, and laughing at them. Their parents sat outside crying. And it is understood that the police here are known to be violent. Tim Ballard was always there. And he threatened the parents several times. The problem is that if you report these things publicly, it is very risky. Tim Ballard can operate with impunity in these countries. With the money he has, he can wrap the police and the OM around his finger. And people don't dare stand up for themselves.
De Telegraaf decided not to publish the interview with Ballard.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service is also making its presence known again. This time, not to Marthijn and Lesley, but through a registered letter to the people who host the websites www.marthijn.nl and www.brongersma.info. On November 17, 2022, the Public Prosecutor wrote:
The court is of the opinion that the website www.brongersma.info can be regarded as a continuation of the activities of an organization that has been declared prohibited by an irrevocable court decision. Continuing that activity constitutes a criminal offense as referred to in Article 140 paragraph 2 of the Penal Code . Taking into account the above, I urge you to make the illegal content inaccessible within 7 days and to remove it as far as possible.
According to the Public Prosecution Service, the site www.brongersma.info should be taken offline and removed. Our host complied with the request, fearing prosecution and the associated expensive attorney fees. We have now obtained legal advice and it appears that the content of the site is not criminal and that the verdict does not stipulate that the site must go offline. Moreover, the destruction of the site cannot be requested because Marthijn's appeal has yet to be filed. Meindert Fennema and I are now investigating how we can get the site back online as soon as possible. The other site co-owners have discontinued their participation.
Finally, the personal consequences. Of course they are completely insignificant compared to what Lesley and Marthijn are going through, but they say a lot about the (intolerant) zeitgeist.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that I have received the threats that were expected to come. It was no surprise to me, either. But I never realized that twenty years of work experience could evaporate in such a short time. My work experience as an economist, consultant, project leader, editor-in-chief, workshop leader, lecturer, etc. was suddenly worthless. The word "pedophilia" unleashes strange emotions.
When you type my name into any search engine, the word often appears, accompanied by unnuanced and highly biased reporting. (i.e."Pedophile Writer Supports Child Rapists.")
I was fired, clients said goodbye, my communication agency went bankrupt, performances and (literary) projects were (and are) cancelled, books were returned scratched, and social media did what they do best. The word "pedophilia" often appears in reviews of my books as well, showing that the public's opinions of the author are more important than the content of his books, and that is of course disastrous for book sales. My literary career continues to dwindle, to evaporate -- although that is not due to "Martijn" alone. The majority of my income is provided by the Dutch Foundation for Literature, for which I am very grateful, but of course this cannot continue indefinitely.
At the height of the threats and firings, I approached PEN Netherlands. Alexis de Roode said on behalf of the board that PEN did not want to help me. According to them, I had caused the consequences myself; with a subject like pedophilia one should know what to expect. I replied that a critical writer in Iran or China also knows what the consequences of his or her actions can be. Unfortunately, there is no help available, and even PEN is dominated by superficial activism. Kristien Hemmerechts experienced the same thing after she was threatened after the publication of her novel about Marc Dutroux's wife, The woman who fed the dogs. She knocked on the door of PEN Belgium and was told almost the same thing that I was.
Despite such large opposition, my motto remains unchanged: Always boldly forward! We are the zeitgeist!
We are now writing early February 2023. Marthijn and Lesley have been locked up in Ecuador for about eight months and they have still not appeared before a judge. The search for a non-corrupt lawyer there continues, as does the search for funds to finance the defense. According to the latest reports, the trial is scheduled for early March.
Marthijn's higher court appeal in the Netherlands is still pending, and no date has been set yet.
On February 3, Lesley emailed me:
'We only have 27 days left.
We don't have a (good) lawyer yet.
We don't have a dossier.
We don't have any witness statements.
In writing this essay I have made use of some texts that I previously published, including Frayed Edges of Moral (Atlas Contact Publishers, 2013).
I've submitted the text to Marthijn and Lesley, to make sure I'm not putting them in any unnecessary danger; I removed some passages (referring to the Mafia). Lawyer Sidney Smeets has also read and commented on that earlier version. Norbert emailed the following: "This is a standardized reply. A portion of your email contains subject matter related to pedophilia, either explicitly or indirectly. Nowadays, certain Dutch nationals discuss such subjects in any way risk imprisonment. Therefore, unfortunately, it's too dangerous for me to respond to your email."
Update February 7th:
Lesley emailed me that OUR (Operation Underground Railroad) is back in Canoa and is offering parents big bucks to falsely testify:
Because the police have nothing, they try to bribe the parents. They are offering large amounts of money. One of the parents told me: 'If I had said yes, I would never have to work again for the rest of my life. [...] OUR has promised family F., among other things, to buy them a house if they testify against me. C., who has been bribed, is said to have received, among other things, a piece of land in Jama. G. was promised large sums of money and a house yesterday. Tomorrow they will declare under oath.
Update - February 9:
Arjan Erkel (ambassador of Free a Girl) sent me an concerned email after I sent him the essay. He indicated that he would inform Free a Girl about the case. A few hours later he emailed again. The contact person at Free a Girl had told him that I was not a neutral party, because I was a member of the Martijn association and was also a pedophile. Arjan asked me if it was true that I was a pedophile. My answer:
Hi Arjan, Free a Girl's response immediately indicates where things go wrong: prejudices and wrong assumptions – not good research. What are they basing their information on? And does it matter if someone is a pedophile?
In addition, I wrote to you this morning:
"Arjan, thank you very much for your answer.
It is good to be informed about the activities of Free a Girl, because they go too far in their mission (which I sympathize with in principle).
Unfortunately, I know quite a few victims of abuse in my immediate vicinity, and I see that thirty or forty years later they are still struggling with the consequences. In all cases, however, it is not the work of a pedophile, but of a family member. Studies show that approximately eighty percent of child abuse takes place in the within the family, mainly by fathers. And that only is with regards to the reported cases – parents of victims within a family context are less likely to report. Because in such cases the domestic safety of the child is also at risk, given the overall lack of a sense of security, the impact is even greater than with 'strangers'. Moreover, 'situational paedosexuals' (heterosexuals) have penetration fantasies, while most pedophiles mainly want to give caresses, as they do not wish to harm the child.
My wife works in child welfare and she also sees this problem, but due to budget cuts they cannot do all that is necessary. Yet the government, the Public Prosecution Service in the lead, stubbornly continues to look the other way. Just like Free a Girl.
I think it would be better if Free a Girl focused its attentions on the main source of child abuse (and maltreatment!) in the Netherlands and not continue to pick the low-hanging fruit - and make a lot of noise about it. As I write in the essay, creating and then destroying evil symbols is detrimental to solving the problem and preventing future victims. Hubris and self-aggrandizing is also lurking in the background.
It is important to distance yourself from the Operation Underground Railroad, as they are deeply in the wrong - try searching Google, in particular Vice magazine has written a lot about Ballard and his associates.
Warm regards and good luck,
Update - February 12:
The site www.brongersma.info is online again.
Update - February 14:
Arnon Grunberg published an article in Het Parool in which he draws attention to the bad practices of Tim Ballard / O.U.R.
Lesley told me that Ballard is absent in the process that starts on March 1st. A few fellow villagers are witnessed, however.
Update February 16:
The men have found a new (reliable) lawyer. According to Lesley, the file has recently changed (afterwards). Tim Ballard and O.U.R. have disappeared from the text as the reason for the arrest. Now that it is becoming increasingly clear that the arrest was based on lies, nonsense stories and prejudices of Ballard trying to keep his name out of the file.
Update February 20:
Marth & Lesley have told me that their lawyer has prevented parents from giving incriminating statements about O.U.R. and the police.
"All lawyers here are liars who always claim something else."
According to them, a false statement has been included from a woman who has received goods, a house and a piece of land from the police in exchange for fabrications about Lesley. There would be several witnesses that confirm this.
Update February 23:
I received an email from Nelson, from prison in Mexico:
The story about me is just as bizarre as Lesley and Marthijn. The police claimed that the head detective in my case was half a meter away and I was so nervous that I dropped a folder with child pornography on the street. Child porn from girls notable. Video images of Operation Underground Railroad shows that it is bullshit. I put the whole story on freesepeechtube.org including charge (which is atm offline for maintenance) Sincerely,
27 Feb: Interview with Dautzenberg and Tinkebell (In Dutch, Twitter.com).
Update March 1:
The process in Ecuador has been postponed to 14 and 15 March.
The criminal file contains a passage that can be interpreted as saying that the Dutch prosecutor's office has given information to Free a Girl and Tim Ballard, and participated in the arrest of Marthijn and Lesley. Lawyer Sidney Smeets asked both the OM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 16 February for clarification. Because there was no answer to this, he sent a remover. He then received an answer that they had not received the mail. (I was in the BCC, so very debatable.) But well, now they can't get away from it anymore.
Update March 2:
A message from Lesley:
I'm going to talk about corruption in court. By name and by everyone. I want to inform you that I and Marthijn are not going to commit suicide. Regardless of what comes out. If we are found dead, I want to be very clear here that it was not suicide. Regardless of what it would look like according to the authorities. [...] Police who gets money from someone to preach lies. A judge who asks me personal money to release me. [...] Police who promised parents money, goods and houses in exchange for false statements. [...] My strength lies in that foreign media is following it. And I am sending it my file right now. So we wait.
Update March 10:
Marthijn's new lawyer was refused entry to the prison despite obtaining written permission. She wants to prepare the case with her client. According to her, the defense is very bad so far, probably deliberately so. The necessary opportunities for entering and requesting evidence are wasted. The OM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have still not answered the letter from Sidney Smeets (March 1). The session will take place definitively on March 14 and 15.
Update March 14:
Lesley and Marthijn now have the same lawyer. She has now been partly paid, but she demands more money to "pay" the police and the judge. Lesley and Marthijn refuse; they do not want to participate in corruption.
I am not going to give money to lawyers for whose entire strategy consists of corruption. I have told this lawyer several times that I do not want to spend 1 dollar on corruption. She asks for 22k in wages, but it appears that at least half of the 22k is intended for corruption. Therefore, lawyers have little interest in discussing the case, because their strategy is not making a strong plea, but simply giving all those present money. O.U.R. has already given the man far more than 20k. They are not going to support me if they would get 1 or 2 K from me. [...] If I knew everything in advance, I would not have taken a lawyer. And I could have given the children more in Canoa.
Update March 16:
The process was extended by a day. The men get the impression that the lawyers are taking their own course, without consultation. The interpreter that is present during the process hardly speaks English, let alone Dutch. Lesley says that the parents who have to testify today are threatened by the police. They do not feel safe and do not want to testify without the presence of a reliable lawyer. Lesley asks for this today at the judge.
Update March 17:
The Dutch OM has finally responded to the letter from Sidney Smeets. However, they do not give a clear answer and beat around the bush. Moreover, the Public Prosecutor sends his answer (consciously) exactly one day after the hearing in Ecuador would have been officially completed. That hearing has been postponed to March 22. Lesley did not want to participate in corruption and fired the lawyer. The court now appoints its own lawyer. In addition, a Dutch translator will be arranged.
Update March 22:
The session with Marthijn and Lesley has been moved forward again.
Lesley said that documents have emerged on which the previous lawyer forged the signatures of Marthijn and Lesley. He sent a clear example. These were documents that gave her "permission" to act on their behalf.
An elderly Belarusian woman is now also involved in the process. She rented a room in the hotel from Marthijn and Lesley for a short period of time. According to Lesley, she too is a victim of Tim Ballard's lies. She is likely to be released due to health issues.
Update March 24:
The process will continue on March 31.
Update April 3:
Lesley informed me that the court-appointed attorney is very good. "Other lawyers could only talk about money and corruption. They were not aware of the matter. This one came up with a good defense against a statement from an agent." The agent has stated in court that his previous statements were incorrect. The case will continue on April 6. Three judges are now on the case; the chance of corruption is thus reduced.
Update April 12:
The men informed me that the process is well under way. Agents who lied earlier now tell the truth: children were not drugged and abused. The psychologist who spoke to the children reported that they were never touched. The neighborhood researcher indicated that the villagers are angry about the behavior of the police and that Lesley and Marthijn are good friendly people.
Update April 18:
The prosecutor is sick; the trial continues on May 3.
Update May 7:
The prosecutor is still sick, but he sends messages to the media. According to the men's lawyer, these are diversionary tactics, tricks, because he knows he is losing the case. The media reports also publish the O.U.R. and Free a Girl sourced information (which is demonstrably false). De Telegraaf has picked up those messages, spiced them up and provided them with even more suggestive (demonstrably false) information. Moreover, the 'journalists' of De Telegraaf do not refer to the adversity.
Update May 9:
OM man was absent again today. He now has until 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon to come up with a doctor's statement. He had to report whether he was still ill 24 hours before the hearing, but had not reported anything. And that OM man indicated last week, after being called why he was not there, that he was about to undergo surgery. Two hours later he was present at another court case as a public prosecutor… If he does not come with a doctor's statement, his department will be fined. But everything is fraud here… Another negative article about us in the media here by the same author but now on another news site.
Update May 10:
Today the NOS has taken over an article from RTV Oost. It was written by an anti-pedo activist, not a journalist. It is based solely on reports in the Ecuadorian media and on erroneous assumptions. The information is demonstrably false and suggestive. Lawyer Sidney Smeets is in consultation with both NOS and RTV Oost about a rectification on behalf of Marthijn and Lesley.
Update May 11:
NOS has removed the message. "On closer inspection, the article turned out not to meet the journalistic standards of the NOS. We have not been able to sufficiently verify the facts so far and have decided to withdraw the article until further notice." RTV Oost has also removed the message. A gang war is currently raging again in Guayaquil prison. Lesley said that they are also being shot at. "Tim Ballard declares that I raped 400 children in 1 village. And would have smuggled 6000 children and women from Ukraine to Latin America. Such things are not possible at all. Certainly not without leaving evidence."
Update May 13:
The judge has issued an ultimatum to the Public Prosecution Service, which has now been delaying the court case for more than three weeks by not showing up: a (new) public prosecutor must take office within 24 hours, otherwise he threatens to dismiss the case. According to the lawyer, the attitude is of the Public Prosecution Service most likely a deliberate strategy; when the judge dismisses the case, both they and the police can remain unaffected. It is time for a quality Dutch newspaper to finally delve into the process, a journalist who is not out to confirm prejudices – so far they systematically refuse to do so.
Update May 16:
According to the men's lawyer, the Public Prosecution Service has not yet made any statements. Lesley: “It is now 4×24 hours later (96 hours). I wonder when a decision will be made. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday. […] Letting us speak on the basis of system errors is the best outcome for them. They know they are losing the case. Hence the negative media reports. When we get out they are going to portray the judges and us as corrupt.”
Update May 19:
The sessions have started again.
SEE ALSO: A Famed Anti-Sex Trafficking Group Has a Problem With the Truth (Vice)
This translation is courtesy of the user Manstuprator at BoyChat.