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Danish MPs block state secrets charges against former defense minister

Danish lawmakers have blocked prosecutors from accusing the country’s former defense minister of revealing state secrets.

The Danish Minister of Justice announced on Thursday that the legislator had refused to waive the parliamentary immunity of Claus Hjort Frederiksen.

Prosecutors charged Hjort Frederiksen with “unauthorized disclosure of highly classified information”.

But a majority of political parties and independent MPs have pledged to block the charges, according to the Justice Department.

Hjort Frederiksen has been an MP since 2005 and served as the country’s defense minister from November 2016 to June 2019.

The exact details of the charges against him have not been released due to the “special nature of the case”, according to a statement. If found guilty, the 74-year-old faces up to 12 years in prison.

“As far as I understand, I haven’t revealed any secrets,” Hjort Frederiksen told TV2.

Danish media have speculated that the case may be linked to allegations that Denmark’s foreign secret services helped the United States spy on European leaders, including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In a December interview, Hjort Frederiksen spoke of a secret eavesdropping agreement between the United States and Denmark in the late 1990s.

“I have to risk a prison sentence. … I informed [Danish officials] that this agreement existed,” he said.

Danish broadcaster DR reported that the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE) conducted an internal investigation in 2014 to determine whether the US National Security Agency had used the relationship to spy on Denmark and others. neighboring countries, including Germany, France, Sweden and Norway.

There are reports that the case against Hjort Frederiksen may be linked to the December arrest of Denmark’s former foreign intelligence chief.

Lars Findsen was remanded in custody on a preliminary charge of “disclosing highly classified information” before an appeals court ordered his release in February.

Details of the allegations against Findsen – who was suspended in August 2020 – are also unknown, and the case has been shrouded in secrecy.

euronews Gt

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