Family of released Moroccan prisoner criticise lack of Danish assistance

Danish-Moroccan Thami Najim spent ten months in a prison in Casablanca and his family and lawyer say Denmark should have done more to help

Last year, Thami Najim, a dual Danish and Moroccan citizen who is an active member in the Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, was sentenced to ten months in a Moroccan prison after being convicted on terrorism charges. 


Najim was released from prison on August 3, and his lawyer and family are now speaking out against what they see as a lackadaisical effort to help Najim's case on behalf of the Danish authorities. 


Najim faced charges of receiving illegal foreign financing for planned terror operations but those charges were not pursued. To help clear Najim of the financing accusations, Najim’s family in Denmark provided his lawyer with key documentation that showed that the funds the Moroccan authorities believed to be illegal financing for terror operations were actually payments for IT work. According to Najim's lawyer, Bjørn Elmquist, the family's efforts played a key role in Najim receiving only a ten month sentence rather than life imprisonment.


Elmquist criticised the Danish Embassy for not providing more assistance during the trial.


“They could have helped collect evidence from Denmark, but they didn’t,” Elmquist told Politiken. 


He also criticised the Foreign Ministry for not intervening when the Moroccan authorities denied Elmquist access to his client. Although the Vienna Convention does not allow a foreign lawyer the same access to a client as a local representative, Elmquist is nonetheless dissatisfied with the Foreign Ministry's efforts.


“They should have put their foot down and said: ‘This is a Danish citizen. Of course he can speak with his attorney'," Elmquist said, adding that his client claims to have been tortured in prison by Moroccan officials.


A Foreign Ministry official said that the ministry has received several requests for help from Danes with dual citizenship who find themselves detained in their second country, but that legally there is not much it can do. 


“[Providing evidence for the trial] is a task for the lawyer. We are not authorised to do that,” Ole Egberg Mikkelsen, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s civil service and communications, told Politiken, adding that the embassy visited Najim in prison 15 times.


Mikkelsen said that ministry officials could not have put any more pressure on the Moroccan government than they did.


“In Denmark, we would not accept it if an embassy put political pressure on our judicial system,” he told Politiken.


Currently, around 100 Danish citizens are imprisoned in a foreign country.