Belgian police search for ‘violent’ suspect who threatened virologist

Belgian police are searching for a heavily armed man who is on the country’s terror list for sympathizing with the extreme right, after they say he made threats against one of the country’s top virologists and others.

“There are indications that he is violent, and in the past 24 hours indications have emerged that the man poses an acute threat,” Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said on Belgian TV Tuesday evening.

Authorities fear the man, who has received military training, wants to carry out an act of violence against himself or others, after he lashed out on social media against several virologists including one of the country’s national coronavirus advisers, Marc Van Ranst, according to Belgian media. Van Ranst confirmed to news agency Belga that he and his family have been moved to a secure location.

Since the pandemic hit, Van Ranst has been an omnipresent figure on Belgian television. He’s also very vocal on social media and regularly blasts the far right in the northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders. He has received police protection since last summer because of threats from the Flemish hard right and anti-vaxxers.

“I’m simply allergic to the extreme right,” Van Ranst told POLITICO in January. “Why would an academic be afraid to say that out loud?”

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial. 



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