PET in hot water for allegedly spying on Pia Kjærsgaard

The head of the domestic intelligence agency stands accused of using Kjærsgaard’s calendar to try to squash the former DF leader’s visit to Christiania

The head of the domestic intelligence agency PET, Jakob Scharf, stands accused of forcing PET employees to illegally spy on the former head of Dansk Folkeparti (DF), Pia Kjærsgaard.

A number of sources have told Ekstra Bladet tabloid that Scharf broke the rules when he coerced PET workers into looking into Kjærsgaard’s calendar in order to prevent her from attending a meeting in Christiania.

According to Ekstra Bladet, Kjærsgaard’s presence in Christiania would have been a costly affair for PET, which had just been handed its own budget, so Scharf ordered PET employees to access the former DF leader’s calendar so that the Christiania trip could be organised on a day which Kjærsgaard would not be able to attend. 

READ MORE: New PET controls too weak, critics say

Kjærsgaard shocked and angry
The revelations about prying into Kjærsgaard's calendar were included in a complaint that five PET union representatives sent to the head of the national police, Jens Henrik Højbjerg. The five PET employees say they no longer have faith in Scharf.

Kjærsgaard said that she was angry and shocked that the head of PET would put obstacles in the way of her trip to Christiania, which was eventually cancelled on short notice despite much preparation. Despite Scharf's efforts, however, Kjærsgaard visited Christiania with parliament's legal affairs committee in June of last year.

“I am shocked to hear this and I look forward to hearing Scharf’s explanation on this, and he needs to come up with one,” Kjærsgaard told Ekstra Bladet.

READ MORE: New controls over PET announced in wake of media Storm

Scharf denies allegations
Today, Scharf categorically denied the accusations, arguing that, as head of PET, he had access to the the DF MP's schedule all along and never used it for illegal purposes.

“In order to plan specific security and protection tasks, PET continuously receives information about planned activities of the people that PET protects,” Scharf wrote in an email to Ekstra Bladet. “It is essential that this information isn’t used for other illicit purposes.”

Scharf went on to contend that PET can experience internal disagreements like any other company, and that he takes great stock in listening to his staff when it comes to improving how things are run within the intelligence agency.

READ MORE: PET agrees to increased oversight

Abuse of power
DF and Venstre have demanded an explanation from the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (S), and called on Scharf to resign if the allegations are found to be true.

Sten Schaumburg-Müller, a professor of public law at Aarhus University, said that the allegations sounded like a textbook case of abusing power.

“PET must only use Pia Kjærsgaard’s calendar for her protection. They should not use the information for anything else, even though they do have access to it,” Schaumburg-Müller told Ekstra Bladet.

READ MORE: PET controls come with financial windfall for intelligence agency

PET troubles mounting
In related news, PET’s week didn’t improve after its head of administration, Mette Lyster Knudsen, resigned from her position amid accusations that the agency is laden with poor leadership and a slipshod work ethic.

Pernille Skipper, Enhedslisten’s spokesperson on legal issues, has arranged a meeting with Bødskov to get to the bottom of PET’s mounting problems.

“It’s time for an explanation. Does PET have anything in order at all? We are asking the justice minister to explain what is going on in the intelligence agency,” Skipper wrote in a press release.

Earlier this year, Kontrolværnet, a committee established in 1964 to oversee PET, was handed more power in the wake of allegations from former covert agent Morten Storm.