Denmark to summon Saudi ambassador over Khashoggi death

Minister of Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen is to summon the Saudi ambassador over the death of dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

Denmark to summon Saudi ambassador over Khashoggi death
Foreign minister Anders Samuelsen. File photo: AP Photo/Alastair Grant/Ritzau Scanpix

Samuelsen decided to call the meeting after Khashoggi was confirmed as having been killed during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to the Istanbul consulate on October 2nd. Riyadh initially denied anything had happened to him.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in an address to the parliament in Ankara on Tuesday, rejected the later Saudi explanation that Khashoggi died in a fight in the consulate.

Erdoğan said that Khashoggi’s “savage” murder was premeditated and called for an independent investigation in Turkey.

“After hearing Erdoğan’s speech, which concludes that it was planned, and there are still many unresolved questions, I think it is fair to give the Saudi ambassador the opportunity to explain, and we will get the chance to ask a few questions,” Samuelsen told Ritzau.

In accordance with protocol, a senior Danish official will meet the ambassador before reporting back to Samuelsen, the ministry confirmed.

The minister did not comment on whether Denmark was planning any further measures against the Saudis.

“It is far too early to make conclusions. There is evidence that international pressure, which Denmark is part of, is working,” he said.

“We have gone from a situation where Saudi Arabia completely denied what happened to their admission that he was killed,” the minister added.

On Sunday, German chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her country was freezing weapons exports to the Middle Eastern nation.

German finance minister Peter Altmaier subsequently stressed the need for a united EU position over the issue.

But Samuelsen said he would take three initial actions before any further steps.

“We are now sending a signal by not attending the investment conference, we are summoning the Saudi ambassador to a meeting and we are continuing international pressure,” he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Monday that neither the ministry nor the Danish embassy in Saudi Arabia would participate in the Future Investment conference in Riyadh this week.

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Denmark accuses Iranian trio of spying for Saudi Arabia

Danish security officials have arrested three members of an Iranian separatist group and charged them with spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Denmark's intelligence service said on Monday.

Denmark accuses Iranian trio of spying for Saudi Arabia
Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The three leading members of the ASMLA, Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, had been under investigation for over a year, in a case that prompted Denmark's foreign minister to summon the Saudi Arabian ambassador.

The three “carried out espionage activities on behalf of a Saudi intelligence service from 2012 to 2018,” Finn Borch Andersen, head of the the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), told a Copenhagen press conference.

PET said it launched an investigation into the trio, who live in Denmark, in November 2018 to determine whether they “had publicly condoned acts of terrorism or committed other criminal offences.”

They were arrested in 2018 and accused of praising five commandos who attacked a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz on September 22, spraying the crowd with gunfire and killing 24 people.

Danish authorities said at the time they believed the three were the target of a planned attack on Danish soil, orchestrated by the Iranian regime.

Tehran had formally denied the accusation.

During the investigation “it was uncovered that they have been involved in espionage activities in Denmark on behalf of Saudi Arabia,” a PET statement said.

“Among other things, they have collected information about individuals in Denmark and abroad and passed on this information to a Saudi intelligence service,” it added.

Denmark's foreign minister Jeppe Kofod called the case “deeply serious and completely unacceptable.”

“We are now for the second time in a year and a half in the position where a regional conflict is played out in Denmark via proxies,” Kofod said in a statement on the developments in the case.

Kofod also said he had summoned the Saudi ambassador for talks earlier Monday, and instructed the Danish ambassador in Riyadh to deliver his objections to Saudi authorities.

ASMLA is a separatist group that advocates an Arab state in a southwestern Iranian province. Tehran calls it a terrorist organisation.

Tehran regularly accuses Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and Israel of supporting separatist groups.

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni monarchy, is Iran's, which is a predominately Shia Muslim nation, main rival in the Middle East.

In the Netherlands, another suspected member of the same organisation was arrested south of The Hague on Monday.

Dutch prosecutors said in a statement that the man, together with others, was “preparing for one or several terrorist attacks in Iran”.

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