Denmark frees ex-spy boss accused of leaks

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Denmark frees ex-spy boss accused of leaks
Danish prosecutors on Friday charged the country's former military intelligence chief Lars Findsen with leaking state secrets. File photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of an ex-military intelligence chief held in custody for more than two months on suspicion of leaking confidential documents.


The details of the investigation into Lars Findsen are classified, but the case comes in the wake of a scandal regarding the Danish intelligence services' cooperation with the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Former defence minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen is also being investigated for allegedly divulging state secrets in the matter.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said Findsen, the former head of the FE military intelligence service, "must be released".

In a statement, the court found nonetheless that there were "well-founded suspicions" that Findsen, who was placed on leave in 2020 despite an untarnished career, had violated an article of the law on state secrets.

"I am naturally happy and grateful for the Supreme Court's decision," Findsen said in a statement released by his lawyer.

Findsen has denied the charges against him.


He was arrested on December 8th, 2021 at Copenhagen airport. Three other former and current intelligence officials were also arrested but released shortly thereafter.

READ ALSO: Danish military intelligence head held over leaks

In August 2020, Findsen and several other intelligence officers had been suddenly fired by then defence minister Trine Bramsen.

The exact cause of their dismissal was never disclosed.

But the government accused them of hiding "essential and crucial information" and providing "false information to the authorities" between 2014 and 2020, amid suspicions his service was conducting illegal surveillance.

In May 2021, an investigation by several Danish media, including public broadcaster DR, revealed that the NSA had used Danish underwater cables to spy on officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France until at least 2014. 

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel was among the targets of the NSA's activities.

The revelations sparked an international scandal and the four countries demanded explanations from Washington and Copenhagen.

DR's revelations were based on a classified Danish military intelligence report codenamed "Operation Dunhammer".

It was compiled by a secret internal working group at FE after the Edward Snowden scandal and was presented to top FE management in May 2015.

The scandal has also embroiled Hjort Frederiksen, who served as defence minister between 2016 and 2019 and is also accused of leaking state secrets.

He confirmed that ex-US president Bill Clinton and former Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen reached an agreement on the use of the underwater cables at the end of the 1990s.

"That's what I understood. That's how it is. From what I know," he told TV2 in December.

Among other embarrassing intelligence details, he also revealed that the agents suspended in 2020 were those who had been in direct contact with the Americans on the matter of the underwater cables. 



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