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Danish military intelligence head held over leaks

The head of Denmark’s military intelligence has been in prison for a month accused of leaking confidential documents to the media, Danish press reported after a mainly closed-door court hearing on Monday.

The head of intelligence service FE (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste), Lars Findsen, pictured here in a 2017 file photo, was suspended in 2020.
The head of intelligence service FE (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste), Lars Findsen, pictured here in a 2017 file photo, was suspended in 2020. File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The head of intelligence service FE (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste), Lars Findsen, pleaded not guilty, and the rest of the proceedings were held in private, newspaper Politiken reported.

Findsen took over as head of the service in 2015 but he and two other senior military intelligence officials were suspended in 2020.

They were accused of hiding “essential and crucial information” and providing “false information to the authorities” amid suspicions his service was conducting illegal surveillance.

Then in December 2021 he was arrested and accused of having leaked “highly confidential” information. The exact charges and nature of the leaks have not been made public.

Media reports say classified information was leaked to the Danish media and that several journalists have been questioned in the course of the inquiry.

Danish officials said on December 9th they had arrested four serving and former members of its two intelligence agencies over the alleged leaks. All detainees apart from Findsen have since been freed.

READ ALSO: Why suspension of intelligence chief is a shock in pragmatic Denmark

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EXPLAINED: How gun control laws work in Denmark

The deadly shooting in a Copenhagen shopping mall and the fact the gunman did not have a firearms permit, has attracted attention abroad around Denmark's gun laws, which are some of the strictest in Europe.

EXPLAINED: How gun control laws work in Denmark

What does the law say?

Gun law in Denmark is regulated by the Ministry of Justice and the European Commission.

In Denmark, you are not permitted to acquire, possess, carry or use firearms or dangerous weapons and knives if you do not have a police permit.

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Denmark have to show a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example hunting, target shooting, collection.

Police carry out checks to decide whether it is safe to grant a person a permit and they are entered into records so everyone’s arms are accounted for.

Only licensed individuals may own or transfer a gun and ammunition and can only purchase ammunition that matches the firearm they own, according to Gunpolicy.org, an organisation that tracks international firearm policy,

If someone wants to use a weapon to go hunting, they must have at least passed a hunting test (jagtprøve) and a shooting test (haglskydeprøve).

Civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms and private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons and handguns is permitted only with special authorisation.

According to Gunpolicy.org, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm is four months to two years in prison.

Age

You must be over 20 years old  and have been an active member of a shooting association for at least two years, to be able to buy a gun. You must be 18 years old to be able to buy a rifle. However, people up to the age of 16 can be allowed to own a rifle if they have the consent of their parents.

How many guns are there in Denmark?

According to Gunpolicy.org, the number of registered guns in Denmark was reported to be 340,000 in 2017. In a 2007 comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Denmark ranked at 69.

The percentage of adults living in a household with a firearm was reported to be 7 per cent in 2015.

Deaths from guns

According to Gunpolicy.org, there were 64 deaths from firearms in Denmark in 2018.

Reacting to the news of Sunday’s shootings, US Congresswoman Lauren Boebert – a Republican and a gun rights activist said this was evidence that America had taken the right approach to firearms control.

“There was just a mass shooting in Denmark, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to admit that gun laws DO NOT stop mass shootings!”

However mass shootings in Denmark are extremely rare. The Copenhagen shootings on 3rd July 2022 was the first mass shooting for 7 years. In 2015, two people were killed and five police officers injured in a series of Islamist-motivated shootings at a cultural centre and synagogue in Copenhagen.

In Denmark, there are a calculated 0.141 shootings per 100,000 inhabitants a year. That compares with just under 4 shootings per. 100,000 inhabitants a year in America, according the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation, United Nations.

On Monday Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said there would be discussions over whether or not to tighten Denmark’s gun laws but that now was the time to remember the victims.

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