‘Nokiagate’: Dutch lawmakers slam Mark Rutte after claims he deleted texts for years

Dutch lawmakers called for an urgent parliamentary debate after a media report claimed that Prime Minister Mark Rutte had deleted text messages from his phone every day for years without proper oversight.

The scandal, dubbed “Nokiagate” by local media in reference to the retro Nokia phone Rutte uses for much of his communication, emerged following a report by Dutch daily de Volkskrant. The prime minister allegedly deleted the texts from his phone, which has room for just 20 messages, despite Dutch law stating that correspondence from ministers should be kept to ensure public accountability.

“I have never consciously withheld important matters,” Rutte said at a press conference Wednesday in response to the allegations, and he denied breaking the law. “I’m not a big fan of smartphones,” he added, but admitted he would now switch to one.

It’s not the first time the long-serving center-right prime minister has been embroiled in a texting scandal. In 2018, he was accused of deleting a message from former Unilever CEO Paul Polman asking him to abolish a tax on dividends.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum slammed Rutte for his actions.

“The prime minister erased his hard drive … at the end of each day. Perfect way to deny any problem you were involved in,” Socialist Party leader Lilian Marijnissen wrote on Twitter.

“Can we erase this cabinet?” far-right Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders wrote on social media.

A debate is likely to take place Thursday, before which lawmakers have said they want Rutte to submit a letter explaining his actions.