Wednesday, May 18

Danish intelligence chief appears in court

The City Court in Copenhagen will today decide whether the detention of the head of the Danish Armed Forces’ intelligence service, Lars Findsen, will be extended.

The head of the Armed Forces’ Intelligence Service in Denmark, 57-year-old Lars Findsen, is accused of having leaked state secrets and has been in custody since 8 December.

Findsen was arrested on December 8, charged with leaking state secrets. He has been in custody since. The custody expires on Friday, and the court must therefore decide whether he should be released, or whether there is a danger of evidence being lost.

Friday’s court hearing will take place behind so-called double-closed doors, as did the previous court hearing. It is therefore not known what information Findsen is accused of having leaked, or to whom.

After the court hearing on January 10, Findsen told journalists that he denies criminal guilt and described the accusation as “crazy”.

The charge against him falls under the very serious provision on “treason” in the Danish penal code, which can be punished with up to twelve years in prison. The section has not been in use for 40 years in Denmark.

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Three other current and former employees of the Armed Forces Intelligence Service (FE) in and the Danish Surveillance Police (PET) are also charged in the case, but only Findsen is in custody.

Must have leaked to the media

According to Danmarks Radio, the case concerns an alleged leak of classified information to the Danish media, but it has not been confirmed which documents or media are in question.

Few have over the years kept more secrets in Denmark than 57-year-old Findsen, who shortly after the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 was appointed leader of PET.

The Armed Forces’ Intelligence Service (FE) is central to the intelligence scandals that have shaken Denmark. The organization is located at the Kastellet fortress in Copenhagen.

Seven years later, he became head of the Ministry of Defense, before taking over as head of FE in 2015.

Findsen has also had a permanent seat on the Danish government’s security committee for the past 20 years.

Warned editors

warn Politics has previously shed light on the background for the charge against Findsen and the other three.

In December, PET chief Finn Borch Andersen and acting FE chief Svend Larsen visited several Danish editors-in-chief and warned of the consequences of publishing classified information.

Weekendavisen’s editor-in-chief Martin Krasnik said afterwards that three specific issues were mentioned during the meeting. One is about the Dane Ahmed Samsam, who has been convicted of terrorism in Spain, but who according to the newspaper Berlingske has been an agent for Danish intelligence.

Another case concerned Ekstra Bladet’s coverage of the situation for Danish women and children in Syrian prison camps, a case the newspaper on Friday was honored with the high-hanging Cavling Prize for.

NSA cooperation

The third case the two intelligence chiefs have warned against digging too deep into, was Denmark’s collaboration with the American signal intelligence organization National Security Agency (NSA). This collaboration has been described in detail by several Danish media.

In August 2020, the Authority for the Danish Intelligence Services (TET) sharply criticized FE in connection with the NSA case, and Findsen and four other leaders were removed from service.

A secret commission investigated the allegations that FE had led the inspection behind the light and exposed Danes to an unjustified risk of surveillance in connection with their close cooperation with the NSA, but concluded that this was not the case.

In all three cases, the Danish media leaked classified information, and in this connection, at least eight Danish journalists from various media were taken in for questioning by the police last month.

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