Government to charge Syrian fighters with treason

But proving their guilt could be difficult

The justice minister, Mette Frederiksen, has revealed the government intends to make it possible to charge Danes who travel to Syria to fight alongside the jihadist organisation Islamic State (IS) with treason.

Frederiksen underlined that the Syria fighters can only be convicted if they attack Danish forces and if they assist the enemy in the battle against Danish soldiers.

”If you leave Denmark and join IS and fight against Danish soldiers, then I believe you are committing treason,” Frederiksen told DR Nyheder. ”I want to ensure the legal aspect is in place, but this is my clear political message.”

READ MORE: More fighters going from Denmark to Syria than most other Western nations

A tough conviction
According to the Danish intelligence agency PET, at least 100 people have travelled from Denmark to Syria to fight on behalf of IS, but the actual number is estimated to be higher. PET believes that at least 50 of the fighters have since returned to Denmark.

The Danish authorities have previously maintained that it is almost impossible to prosecute people who have fought in Syria, because it is very difficult to collect evidence and witnesses in order to prove guilt.

Late last year, British magazine the Economist found that, per capita, Denmark had the second largest contingent of citizens fighting in Syria out of all western nations.

The maximum sentence for treason is 16 years in prison.