Danish court affirms convictions for Iranian separatists linked to terrorism, spying

  • A Danish appeals court upheld guilty verdicts for three members of an Iranian separatist group on charges of promoting terror in Iran and gathering information for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service.
  • The men were arrested in Feb. 2020 and convicted for their involvement in a deadly attack on a military parade in Iran in Sept. 2018.
  • They face potential sentences of up to 12 years in prison, with the exact terms to be announced later this year.

A Danish appeals court on Tuesday upheld guilty verdicts for three members of an Iranian separatist group convicted of promoting terror in Iran and gathering information for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service.

The three were arrested in February 2020 in the town of Ringsted, 40 miles southwest of the Danish capital of Copenhagen, and convicted of promoting terror over a deadly attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz in September 2018.

The Eastern Court in Copenhagen said Tuesday the men belonged to the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz and had been gathering information about individuals and organizations in Denmark and abroad, as well as on Iranian military affairs, and passing it on to Saudi intelligence.

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Prosecutor Henrik Aagaard said the case underscored “how foreign powers carry out their activities on Danish soil.”

Court of Roskildes

Armed Police officers patrol outside the court of Roskildes, a courtroom in the city of Herfoelge, Denmark, on Feb. 4, 2022. A Danish appeals court has upheld guilty verdicts for three members of an Iranian separatist group convicted of promoting terror in Iran and gathering information for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service. (Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix via AP, File)

The men, who were not identified according to Danish rules, face up to 12 years in prison. Their sentences based on the ruling by the Eastern High Court are to be announced later this year.

The Eastern High Court also confirmed the men’s February 2022 guilty verdicts by the District Court in Roskilde, which convicted them of financing and attempting to finance terrorism by obtaining $2.2 million and trying to obtain at least another 15 million kroner from Saudi Arabia for the separatist group.

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Most of the proceedings were held behind closed doors “due to the consideration of the state’s relationship with foreign powers as well as security considerations related to individuals,” the court said in a statement.

Tehran has accused the separatist group of the Ahvaz attack, which killed at least 25 people. The group has condemned the violence and said it was not involved.

The case was linked to a 2018 police operation in Denmark over an alleged Iranian plot to kill one or more opponents of the Iranian government. The operation briefly cut off the island where Copenhagen is located from the rest of Denmark. That same year, Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service started investigating the three Iranians.

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