When three men were arrested in April on charges of illegal weapons possession in connection with a possible terrorist plot, it was reported that the unknown weapons supplier was still at large.
And for good reason. As it turns out, the ‘unknown supplier’ was a secret PET agent.
Suspecting the three men of plotting a terrorist act, PET had an agent sell the men two AK-47 assault rifles at Hareskov Station north of Copenhagen. They were arrested shortly thereafter, but once Copenhagen Police took over the investigation, it was determined that there were no grounds for the terror charges and they were dropped.
Two of the man pleaded guilty to possession of illegal weapons, while the third maintained his innocence. According to one of the men who confessed, the weapons were intended for Syrian opposition fighters.
Earlier today in a Frederiksberg courtroom, all three men were sentenced to one and a half years in prison on the weapons charges.
Along with the sentences came heavy criticism of PET’s actions in the case.
Henrik Dupont, the lawyer for one of the defendants, a 23-year-old Jordanian, told public broadcaster DR that PET incriminated the men by selling them weapons.
“It was provocative behaviour on the part of PET,” Dupont said. “Maybe it didn’t go over the line, but it went right up to it.”
Another of the defence lawyers agreed.
“PET came into this case in a crooked manner,” Jane Ranum, whose client is a 23-year-old Turkish citizen who lives in Denmark, told DR. “This was a completely ordinary weapons case, and PET needs to learn from this.”
The criticism of PET comes just weeks after it was revealed that the intelligence agency withheld a potential alibi of one of the five men on trial for politically-motivated domestic terrorism. The agency has also had to face a lot of questions related to the revelations of former PET secret-agent Morten Storm, who claims to have led the CIA to al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki and later to have been offered hush money from PET.
Dupont told DR that, despite the questionable tactics of PET, his client was satisfied with the verdict.
“It was a mild punishment. Since we’re talking about fully automatic weapons, it could have been much worse,” he said.
However, Thorkild Høyer, the lawyer of the third defendant, a 22-year-old Dane who is described as having Egyptian roots and who was once a professional football player, said his client had nothing to do with the weapons and should not have received the same sentence as the others.
Prosecutors had pushed for a minimum of two years in prison for all three men, and the expulsion of the Turkish and Jordanian men.