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The European Parliament has launched an investigation into intimidation and cross-border behavior by Flemish nationalist MEP and Telegraaf columnist Assita Kanko. that reports Policy. Internal documents and witness statements indicate that there is a culture of fear among Kanko employees.
The investigation follows a complaint filed in November 2022. POLITICO spoke with former Kanco (42) employees, their colleagues in Parliament and a person involved in the investigation. The employees spoke on the basis of anonymity because they feared the consequences for their further careers. In addition to the conversations, Politico also obtained text messages, emails, and audio recordings from Kanko.
Documents collected show that Kanko required its employees to be present 24 hours a day, including weekends and nights. In addition, Kanko was constantly making impossible demands and making inappropriate requests to help Kanko with her private life. It was impossible for the staff to refuse these requests.
While all employees acknowledged that working in politics inevitably meant working irregular hours, they said Kanko had acted unreasonably. “It always had to be done right away, so you left your friends and family to handle her request,” said one employee. “The next day she changed her mind and wanted to go back to the original plan. This happened constantly and drove us all crazy.”
The European Parliament defines psychological harassment as “any inappropriate behavior that occurs over a period of time, is repetitive or systematic and includes physical behaviour, spoken or written language, gestures or other actions that are intentional and which violates the personal, dignity, physical or psychological integrity of a person.”
Two former employees described examples of what they perceived as psychological harassment against Kanko. Someone said: “It makes you think that it was you who did the wrong thing or said the wrong thing, even if you have evidence to the contrary.”
Born in Burkina Faso, Kanko has been active in Belgian politics for over ten years. After a stint as a local politician for the French-speaking Liberals, she switched to N-VA in 2018. In 2019, she was elected as a Member of the European Parliament. In doing so, she mainly focuses on immigration issues in which she follows a right-wing nationalist path. Kanku is a columnist for De Telegraaf. In that paper, she mainly uses far-right anti-wake-up rhetoric.
Kanko himself said that he does not comment but completely trusts the investigation.
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