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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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CRIME

Danish court jails woman in 4 billion euro money laundering case

A Danish court on Thursday sentenced a woman to jail for attempting to launder nearly four billion euros, the largest case of money-laundering in the Nordic country's history.

Danish court jails woman in 4 billion euro money laundering case

The 49-year-old Lithuanian woman had confessed to the crime in police interviews, Denmark’s Prosecution Service said in a statement.

Between December 2008 and March 2016, nearly four billion euros were funnelled through a series of companies, all of which had accounts in Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.

“This is the largest amount we have seen in a money laundering case brought before a court in Denmark,” special prosecutor Lisette Jørgensen said in a statement.

“The woman had a role in a large money laundering complex built around 40 Danish limited partnerships,” Jorgensen added.

Using her expertise, she “made it possible for the companies to move money around in order to disguise their illegal origins”, the prosecutor said.

According to the prosecution service, two other defendants in the case have also been linked to the companies. 

One is a 49-year-old former Russian citizen who is in custody after she was extradited from the UK in December 2021, and the other is a 56-year-old Lithuanian man living in Denmark.

The Lithuanian woman sentenced Thursday was given three years and 11 months in prison for laundering millions in a separate case. 

Together with Thursday’s verdict, her total sentence is eight years in jail.

Prosecutors also said the case is connected a larger scandal involving Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest.

The bank is still recovering after it became embroiled in criminal investigations in several countries over some 200 billion euros in transfers that passed through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015, involving some 15,000 foreign clients, many Russian.

READ ALSO: Danish police drop money laundering case against Danske Bank directors

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