Danes mull exit permits for travel to ‘terror zones’

Denmark’s opposition will today push for anyone travelling to the ‘terror zones’ in Syria or northern Iraq to be required to first obtain an official exit permit, introducing a document to Denmark rarely seen outside totalitarian regimes.

Danes mull exit permits for travel to 'terror zones'
The war in Syria and Iraq has attracted many young Danish Muslims. Photo: STRINGER/Scanpix Denmark
Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of the centre-right Venstre Party, wants the permit requirement added to the anti-ISIS bill which on Friday entered the Danish parliament for the first day of debate. 
The controversial bill would empower police to seize the passports of Danish citizens suspected of planning to go and fight in Syria. 
Venstre’s integration spokesman Martin Geertsen dismissed criticism that ‘exit permits’ were a measure rarely seen outside totalitarian regimes  such as Cuba,  the Soviet Union, and North Korea. 
“It is an extraordinary situation, and we think it is much more effective to prohibit people from going there without prior permission, than what the government proposes,” Geertsen told state broadcaster DR. “Syria, Iraq and the terror zones down there are hardly the Costa del Sol or a holiday in Tuscany.” 
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said earlier this week that her party was open in theory to the idea of exit permits. However, Social Democrat spokesperson Trine Bramsen cautioned that the party would only expand the scope of the bill after a “reasoned and informed” debate. 
“It is essential that we have all the facts on the table and know how the bill would work in practice,” she said. “That way we do not just say ‘yes’ to something without knowing the consequences.” 
The passport bill is expected to pass with a large majority before coming into force on March 1.
Peter Vedel Kessing, a senior researcher at Denmark's Institute of Human rights on Friday warned that in its present wording, the bill risked violating the human rights of Danes. 
"The more vaguely the bill is worded, the greater the risk that we will hit innocent people," he told DR

At present the bill would empower Danish police to seize the passport of a person simply "if there is reason to believe that they will be a danger to the Danish government".


Denmark strips dual national of citizenship after terror conviction

A court in Denmark jailed a dual Danish-Turkish national for 10 years on Tuesday and stripped him of his citizenship for "planning a terrorist attack".

Denmark strips dual national of citizenship after terror conviction
The court at Frederiksberg ruled a 24-year-old man must be stripped of his Danish citizenship following a conviction on terrorism charges. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The 24-year-old — who was not named by the court — will serve his prison sentence in Denmark, but will then be deported to Turkey upon release, the court in Frederiksberg said in a statement.

The man, a native of Copenhagen, had been under surveillance by the intelligence services and was arrested in April 2020 immediately after purchasing a gun and ammunition. 

The police had found a flag of the Islamic State group in his home. 

Prosecutors had demanded a jail term of 12 years and had charged him with purchasing weapons and ammunition “with the intent of perpetrating one or more terrorist attacks”.

The potential targets were not revealed.

After the man is deported, he will be banned for life from entering Danish territory. 

“I think he’s been in Turkey fewer times than many other Danish people,” his lawyer, Rolf Gregersen, told the court.

“Denmark must take responsibility for him once he was awarded Danish citizenship. They can’t just stick a postage stamp on his back and send him on his way,” the lawyer was quoted by the Danish news agency Ritzau as saying. 

The Danish intelligence services, which have foiled a number of attacks in recent years, categorise the risk of an attack against Denmark as “serious”, six years after an Islamist-motivated double attack in Copenhagen left two people dead.