The U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands apologized for claiming "fake news" when confronted by his own words about the Netherlands in an interview with a Dutch reporter.
In an interview with the news program Nieuwsuur, Peter Hoekstra had denied making controversial statements about so-called "no-go zones" in 2015, when he claimed cars and politicians were being burned in Muslim neighborhoods in Europe.
“I didn't say that,” Hoekstra said. “That is actually an incorrect statement. Yeah, we would call it 'fake news.'”
Later, Hoekstra appeared to deny having denied what he said. "I didn't call that 'fake news.' I didn't use the words today," he said. "No, I don't think I did."
On Saturday, Hoekstra apologized in a tweet.
"I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview," Hoekstra said. "Please accept my apology."
Hoekstra, a former Michigan congressman who once chaired the House Intelligence Committee, was born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States at age 3. A longtime Trump supporter, he was rewarded with a nomination as ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Senate confirmed the nomination last month, and he will report to the Hague in January.
"It will be the greatest honor of my life to serve as United States ambassador to the Netherlands. I look forward to the opportunity to learn, to listen and to move on in the spirit of peace and friendship with the people and the leaders of the Netherlands," Hoekstra said in his statement Saturday.
Hoekstra earned a reputation as a hard-line warrior against what he calls "radical Islam."
His 2015 remarks — since widely debunked — maintained that there were Muslim-controlled neighborhoods across Europe where non-Muslims are forbidden to enter.
"The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned," Hoekstra said in 2015. "And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands."
Hasan Dudar reports for the Detroit Free Press.