Sunday, June 23, 2024

Denmark drops lawsuit against former defense minister and former spy chief accused of leaking secrets

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish prosecutors on Wednesday dismissed two separate cases against a former defense minister and a former head of foreign intelligence, citing failure to divulge classified information in court.Both men were charged with leaking state secrets.

Denmark’s highest court ruled last week that two cases that have been shrouded in secrecy should be made public, and that the hearings will be halted each time confidential information is presented.

“From a national security perspective, it is no longer safe to disclose highly classified information in criminal proceedings,” Denmark’s public prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Prosecutor Jakob Berger Nielsen said in a statement that the legal process would have forced the “disclosure of confidential information.”

Former Minister of Defense Claus Hjort FrederiksenThe 76-year-old said in multiple interviews in 2020 and 2021 that the Danish Defense Intelligence Agency, which is responsible for overseas operations, had reported that the NSA had wiretapped leaders of Germany, France, Sweden and Norway, including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He claimed to have cooperated with.

Suspicions between the US and Denmark allowed the NSA to obtain data using politicians’ phone numbers as search parameters. The military agency reportedly supported the NSA from 2012 to 2014.

A 2013 report that the NSA was wiretapping German government phones, including that of Chancellor Angela Merkel, sparked a diplomatic row between Berlin and Washington, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying that if it was correct, “this would be an issue between our allies.” is unacceptable.”

Norway’s prime minister at the time, Erna Solberg, called this “unacceptable” and said spying on others “creates more mistrust than cooperation.”

In another case, the spy chief Lars Finsen The 59-year-old defendant had been charged with leaking confidential information to six people, including two journalists.

His interviews are based on his time as head of the Danish Defense Intelligence Agency, which began in 2015, when an independent watchdog harshly criticized the spy agency for deliberately withholding information from Denmark and breaking the law. As a result, he was suspended in August 2020.

He was arrested at Copenhagen Airport in December 2021.

“Classified information is central to the case. Without being able to present it in court, prosecutors have no opportunity to reduce their burden of proof,” said prosecutor Berger Nielsen.

News of the dismissed lawsuit dominated Danish media.

Hjort Frederiksen welcomed the decision in a live broadcast, saying he was “delighted”.

“We are in a serious situation,” Finn Borch Andersen, head of Denmark’s internal security agency, said in a statement, expressing concern that cases over classified information could not be brought to court. He called for new laws to be enacted “so that cases like this can be tried with peace of mind.”

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