Ex-defence minister charged (again) with divulging state secrets
Claus Hjort Frederiksen, the defence minister from 2016 to 2019, was yesterday charged with sharing state secrets. The 75-year-old retired member of Venstre has pleaded not guilty.
“It is of course serious when highly classified information – which is protected by a policy of confidentiality, and which is essential for the intelligence service’s work to protect Denmark – is passed on to unauthorised persons,” explained prosecutors.
“It can damage the relationship with the intelligence service’s partners, weaken trust in the intelligence services and make it more difficult for them to carry out their work.”
Frederiksen was charged under the same paragraph of the criminal code over a year ago, but the case was thrown out because MPs have ‘parliamentary immunity’ protecting them from criminal prosecution, arrest and imprisonment.
There was a vote in Parliament at the time on whether Frederiksen’s immunity should be revoked, but a majority voted that it should not.
Having retired over the past year, Frederiksen no longer enjoys parliamentary immunity. The attorney general subsequently recommended that the justice minister, Peter Hummelgaard Thomsen, bring charges.
Another closed door case
Since the case involves highly-classified information, the prosecution has also asked that it be heard behind closed doors, in spite of great public interest.
Last year Lars Findsen, the former head of the PET intelligence service, was charged under the same paragraph of the criminal code, having been accused of leaking state secrets.
His trial is ongoing, and it is also being held away from public scrutiny.
What a pickle
A few days ago Frederiksen asked Thomsen via a public Facebook post whether it wasn’t time to “take the case out of the pickle jar”, meaning that it had been dragging on too long. Frederiksen was charged three days after he posted this apparent challenge to the minister.
In the same post the Frederiksen protested his own innocence and mentioned the “inappropriate” treatment of Findsen.
The pickle may be out of the jar, but it is a pickle that doesn’t look as if it is going away any time soon for Claus Hjort Frederiksen.