Denmark’s intelligence service says country is target of ‘increased’ foreign spying

Head of counter-intelligence with national security service PET, Anders Henriksen, said in a Danish newspaper interview that China, in particular, was
Head of counter-intelligence with national security service PET, Anders Henriksen, said in a Danish newspaper interview that China, in particular, was "making great efforts to gain access to cutting-edge technology and knowledge".  File photo: Erik Refner/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark's intelligence service warned on Thursday of a rise in foreign state espionage on its soil, a month after the national head of military intelligence was arrested, accused of leaking confidential documents.

The threats targeting the Scandinavian country emanated mainly from Russia, China and Iran, Denmark’s security and intelligence authority PET said in a new report.

“A number of foreign states are actively carrying out intelligence activities against Denmark and the espionage threat has increased in recent years,” PET said in a statement accompanying the report.

“The activities include espionage, influence operations, harassment, attempts to illegally procure products, technology and knowledge and, in exceptional cases, outright assassination attempts,” it added.

The threat from foreign state intelligence activity “is also relevant to the Faroe Islands and Greenland”, PET said, namely because of rising international competition for access to the Arctic.

PET’s head of counter-intelligence, Anders Henriksen, told the Politiken newspaper that China, in particular, was “making great efforts to gain access to cutting-edge technology and knowledge”. 

University exchanges were particularly vulnerable, he said.

“Certain types of research, even when it’s at a very early stage, could be used for military purposes and pose problems,” Henriksen said.

In summer 2021, Politiken revealed that at least 30 researchers in Denmark had been recruited via a Chinese programme called “1,000 Talents”.

The new report comes at a difficult time for Denmark’s intelligence services.

According to an investigation released last year by public broadcaster DR, the United States used Danish undersea cables until at least 2014 to tap conversations between senior figures in Germany, France, Sweden and Norway, including the then German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Then PET military intelligence chief Lars Findsen was arrested in December 2021, accused of leaking “highly confidential” information to the media. He remains in detention.

Findsen and two other senior military intelligence officials had already been suspended in 2020, amid suspicions his service was conducting illegal surveillance. 

An audit found that the military intelligence service “hid essential and crucial information” and provided “false information to the authorities” when quizzed about its surveillance operations between 2014 and 2020.

READ ALSO: Danish military intelligence head held over leaks


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