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CRIME

Danish court convicts Iranian separatist group of spying for Saudi Arabia

A Danish court on Friday convicted three leaders of an Iranian Arab separatist group based in the Scandinavian country of spying for Saudi intelligence between 2012 and 2020.

Police officers outside the Roskilde District Court on February 4th. The court convicted three leaders of an Iranian Arab separatist group based in the Scandinavian country of spying for Saudi intelligence between 2012 and 2020.
Police officers outside the Roskilde District Court on February 4th. The court convicted three leaders of an Iranian Arab separatist group based in the Scandinavian country of spying for Saudi intelligence between 2012 and 2020. Photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

The three, aged 40 to 51 and one of whom is a Danish citizen, are members of the separatist organisation ASMLA (Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz), which Iran considers a terrorist group.

Their sentencing will be announced in March. They face up to 12 years in prison.

Following a lengthy trial held behind closed doors, the Roskilde court found the trio guilty of “gathering information on individuals and organisations, in Denmark and abroad, as well as on Iranian military affairs, and transmitting this information to a Saudi intelligence service”.

The trio was also found guilty of “promoting terrorism” for supporting the activities of ASMLA’s armed branch.

The jury found that “the actions and attacks of these movements are terrorist attacks which exceed the limits of legitimate freedom fighting”.

They were also convicted of “financing and attempted financing of terrorism”, for having received 15 million kroner (two million euros) from a Saudi intelligence agency as well as having tried to obtain another 15 million from the same source.

The money was aimed at financing ASMLA’s activities, the court found.

The three have been held in custody in Denmark since February 2020, under special protection due to the nature of their case.

The case dates back to 2018 when one of the three was the target of a foiled attack on Danish soil believed to be sponsored by the Iranian regime in retaliation for the killing of 24 people in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, in September 2018.

Tehran formally denied the attack plan in Denmark, but in 2020 a Danish court jailed a Norwegian-Iranian for seven years for his role in the plot. 

That attack put Danish authorities on the trail of the trio’s ASMLA activities.

READ ALSO: Danish terror trial begins against Iranian separatists

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MONEY

Denmark police receive 456 reports of fraud from the corona relief fund

The National Unit for Special Crime has received 456 reports of fraud from the corona relief packages since 1st April 2020, according to a press release from the Money Laundering Secretariat (Hvidvasksekretariatet).

Denmark police receive 456 reports of fraud from the corona relief fund

The frauds and attempted frauds amount to 212 million kroner, although some of the scams were discovered before the fraudsters got the money. More than 28 million kroner has been recovered through 102 recovery operations.

According to Jørgen Andersen, deputy police inspector and head of the Money Laundering Secretariat, the task has been taken “very seriously” in the secretariat since the introduction of corona relief packages.

“And it has had a high priority with us as authorities. But also with the notifiers – here primarily banks and the accountants – and we sat down together quite quickly in a community.

“Here, we organised the effort in such a way that when banks and auditors sent notifications to us where there was a suspicion of misuse of schemes, we typically sent them within 24 hours to the authorities who paid money on these schemes”, Andersen says.

Companies or individuals should contact the Money Laundering Secretariat (Hvidvasksekretariatet) if they suspect money laundering or terrorist financing.

In October 2020, an eight-billion kroner stimulus package was agreed in parliament to help Danish businesses and cultural institutions hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The financial package also included a liquidity fund totalling 28 million kroner. 

READ ALSO: Denmark announces new coronavirus relief for businesses and culture

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