Suspects in Denmark hearing deny plot to attack newspaper

Thursday, December 30, 2010

COPENHAGEN - Three men arrested in Denmark on suspicion of planning an attack on a Danish newspaper denied the allegations when their remand custody hearing opened Thursday outside Copenhagen.

Prosecutor Lykke Sorensen said they were suspected of terrorist crimes and firearms offences, noting that a submachine gun and a handgun had been seized by police.

The Danish secret service PET alleged that the suspects were planning an “imminent” attack on the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that had published controversial caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed in 2005.

The three, who lived in Sweden, declined further comment. The judge then ordered that the hearing continue behind closed doors.

The PET however did not request the custody of a fourth man also arrested Wednesday. The 26-year-old Iraqi-born man, who lived in Denmark, remained under suspicion, the PET said.

Bomb disposal experts searched the 26-year-old’s flat overnight Thursday and removed a suspicious package that proved to be harmless, the PET said.

Police said Wednesday they had seized a submachine gun with a silencer as well as plastic cable bands for tying people up.

In Sweden, a separate hearing was due Thursday against a fifth man arrested in connection with the case. The Tunisian-born man, 37, had a profile photo on the social networking site Facebook of a warrior brandishing a shield and a sword, the Expressen daily reported.

The suspects were described as militant Islamists and had international ties.

The Danish and Swedish secret services cooperated closely in tracking the men and carrying out their arrests.

The five, four of whom lived in Sweden, with three holding Swedish citizenship, were aged 26 to 44. Two were Tunisian-born, one Lebanese-born, one Iraqi-born and one was a Swedish national whose ethnic background was unknown, the PET said.

Jyllands-Posten has been the target of several alleged plots since the publication of the caricatures. Almost exactly a year ago, an axe-wielding man forced his way into cartoonist Kurt Westergaard’s home.

Westergaard had made a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.

The court hearing was held in Glostrup, west of Copenhagen.

Filed under: Terrorism

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