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Danish former defence minister accused of leaking secrets

A former Danish defence minister faces charges of leaking state secrets, the justice ministry said Thursday, in a case linked to a scandal sparked by the Danish intelligence services' cooperation with Washington.

Former Danish defence minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen
Former Danish defence minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen after speaking to press at the Christiansborg parliament on May 12th 2022. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

In a statement, the justice ministry said it had “received a recommendation from the public prosecutor to prosecute MP Claus Hjort Frederiksen for… unauthorised disclosure of highly confidential information.”

The ministry is seeking to have his parliamentary immunity lifted, as required by Danish law.

Many of the details of the case, which has seen the former head of Danish military intelligence held for two months, remain classified.

Danish lawmakers are seeking access to the case file to decide whether to lift Frederiksen’s immunity, but the justice minister has so far refused.  

“We are talking about highly confidential information, so it is not possible for the entire parliament to see it,” Mattias Tesfaye told public broadcaster DR.

In May 2021, a media investigation revealed the US National Security Agency had used Denmark’s undersea cable network to listen to targets from four countries — Germany, Sweden, Norway and France — including then German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Frederiksen, defence minister between 2016 and 2019, told Danish television TV2 in December the agreement on the use of undersea cables was signed in the late 1990s by then US president Bill Clinton and then Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

“That’s what I understood. That’s how it is. From what I know,” the former defence minister said.

Prosecutions were launched against him in January.

READ ALSO: Europe demands answers after US-Danish spying claims

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