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Danish former Stasi collaborator sues historian for libel

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Danish former Stasi collaborator sues historian for libel
An unrelated file photo showing Stasi archives being inspected in Berlin in 1992. Photo: NF/Scanpix Denmark
11:54 CET+01:00
A Cold War hangover was played out in a Copenhagen court room on Monday.

A former unofficial collaborator with the East German Stasi intelligence service appeared at Copenhagen City court in a defamation case against historian Bent Jensen and publisher Gyldendal over two statements made in the 2014 book Ulve, får og vogtere I (Wolves, Sheep and Guards I).

The former collaborator, Jan Aage Jeppesen, who now lives in Spain, admits to having been in contact with the former official state security service of the German Democratic Republic, but disputes accusations made in Jensen's book that he "caused several East German citizens to end up in East German prisons," and "spied against Denmark".

Jeppesen was given code names including Hamster and Apollo and was paid for various assignments including infiltrating the Ost-West Transfer group, which helped smuggle East German citizens to the West.

He also gave the Stasi a description of Danish security service PET's offices and took photographs of Polish activists in Copenhagen, the court heard.

But he denies the two comments made in the 2014 book, saying there is no documentation to support them.

He is not seeking legal penalties against Jensen or Gyldendal.

The court heard during Monday's proceedings that Jeppesen cooperated with the Stasi while also smuggling cigarettes during the 1980s. He said he was motivated by economic, rather than ideological, considerations.

Denmark's State Prosecution Service shelved a criminal case against Jeppesen in 2002, stating that it was unlikely he would be convicted and that the case was too old.

"The statements are true and Bent Jensen has extended freedom of speech [due to his role as an academic historian, ed.]," defence lawyer Karoly Németh said in court on Monday.

Jensen is seeking acquittal in the case. A verdict is scheduled for March 5th.

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