January 5, 2016
Belgian authorities have imposed a de facto ban on taking photographs of the European Commission’s Berlaymont building, despite the terror threat in Brussels being dropped to level two today (5 January).
There is no official or emergency law forbidding photos of the EU institutions. But soldiers and cops have demanded people, including journalists, delete pictures they have taken.
According to Belgian law, photos may be taken of government buildings provided they are snapped from public ground.
Federal Police confirmed to Heard in Europe that there was no official ban, but that officers were allowed discretion in asking for pictures to be deleted.
The practice came to light earlier today after a journalist was stopped by a soldier after taking several photos of the Berlaymont to accompany a story.
The soldier told him to delete the pictures outside the International Press Center. When he asked why, two non-uniformed, black-clad cops appeared from nearby.
They insisted the photos were deleted, despite the journalist offering his ID. They refused his request to email their reasons to his editor, ordering him to get any photos of the Berlaymont “off the Internet.”
“This would be better for you,” one told the exasperated and disbelieving shutterbug. “Maybe you can take a photo of the building in a couple of months.”
As well as journalists doing their job, many tourists inexplicably take photos of the Berlaymont – which is one of the world’s most boring-looking buildings.
At the height of the Brussels lockdown, after the Paris terror attacks and over the Christmas and New Year period, the level was four.
Armed soldiers remain on guard outside the Berlaymont, with the undersides of cars being checked for explosives before being allowed into the car park.
Photo credit withheld at snapper’s request.Heard in Europe