A Danish delegation that travelled to Turkey has returned home with a confirmation that the man who attempted to assassinate Islam critic Lars Hedegaard has indeed been released from prison as suspected. What the delegation did not find out, however, was exactly why he was released.
Denmark’s newly-named justice minister, Mette Frederiksen, addressed the release in a written statement.
“I understand that the recent rumours that a Danish citizen was released have been confirmed by the Turkish authorities. I find it completely incomprehensible that the man in question has been released,” she wrote.
Frederiksen added that Turkey did not give an official reason for the release. According to some reports, Hedegaard’s would-be assassin was handed over to the terrorist group Isis as part of a prisoner swap.
“I had expected that the Turkish authorities would have been prepared to give more answers than the delegation received… But I understand that officials from Turkey are working on giving Denmark answers as soon as possible. The government will naturally hold Turkey to that,” Frederiksen said.
The man in question is ‘BH’, a 27-year-old Danish citizen with a Lebanese background. In February 2013, BH posed as a postal employee delivering a package to Hedegaard. When Hedegaard opened his front door, BH pulled a gun and fired a shot that missed its target. The two men then struggled before BH dropped his gun and ran. He was on the run until April 2014, when he was arrested in Turkey.
Hedegaard, who last week declared that he would run for parliament as a political independent, strongly criticised both the man’s release and the way Turkey has thus far handled the situation.
“It is scandalous and cheeky of Turkey that we needed to send a Danish delegation all the way down there just to find out what they could have told us a week ago,” Hedegaard told DR.
“The Turks have placed themselves outside of the regular legal system and with this decision they have also placed themselves outside of common decency,” he added.
In an interview earlier this month, Hedegaard told The Local that he remains convinced that it was his outspoken criticism of Islam that led to the assassination attempt.
“I have no doubt at all, but I’d be interested in hearing his explanation. I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me. I’ve had no dealings with him, I haven’t stolen his money or screwed his wife - so what would his motivation then be?” he told The Local.
Among Hedegaard’s controversial comments about Islam was the implication that all Muslim males rape their female family members. That comment resulted in a racism charge that the Supreme Court ultimately acquitted him on.