Denmark: Former head of the secret service in custody, allegation of “high treason”

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The head of the Danish military intelligence service or foreign intelligence service, who was suspended in 2020 in the wake of a suspected surveillance scandal, has been in prison for more than a month. That became known on Monday after a ban on naming one’s name was lifted in a court in Copenhagen. Lars Findsen is one of four people arrested in early December for illegally disclosing top secret information. According to Reuters, Findsen is the only one of them still in custody. The allegations against him are unknown. The Findsen saga takes another turn, he himself called the events “completely crazy” according to local media.

Findsen was suspended as head of Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE) in August 2020 because the secret service not only illegally spied on Danish citizens, but also illegally passed on the data collected in the process. The boss at the time was also accused of withholding information from the supervisory authority and of providing false information. Six months later, the Danish media reported that the FE helped the NSA, among other things, to spy on top German politicians and ministries in their own country. A special commission was responsible for investigating the allegations but decidedly rejected it on December 12th and stated that the suspended people could return to the service.

As it now turns out, Findsen had been in custody for several days at the time. The detention was preceded by long investigations, the domestic secret service PET (Politiets Efterretningstjeneste) announced at the time, without naming them. Findsen is charged according to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) under a particularly serious provision of the Criminal Code, which falls under “high treason”. It is about the betrayal of state secrets, the maximum sentence is twelve years. According to the report, Findsen had previously been extensively monitored and his phone calls tapped. Citing anonymous sources, the DR adds that the issue now is the illegal disclosure of top secret information to the press and no longer the disclosure of data to foreign secret services.

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