Finn Borch Andersen, head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service. Photo:
PET head Finn Borch Andersen made the announcement at a press release explaining the agency’s extraordinary actions on September 28th, in which a massive manhunt led to the closure of a number of roads, bridges and ferry routes.
Andersen said that an attempt to assassinate a resident of Denmark was behind the large-scale police action.
“This is a case that entails an Iranian intelligence operation in Denmark, In our view, it was an Iranian intelligence agency’s plan to assassinate a person who lives in Denmark,” the PET head said.
In collaboration with the Norwegian and Swedish intelligence services, PET’s investigation into the assassination attempt led to the arrest of a Norwegian man thought to be involved in the plan.
“A Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin was arrested on October 21st. The person in question is now in custody. He is charged with establishing an Iranian intelligence operation in Denmark as well as having taken part in the assassination attempt,” Andersen said.
The Norwegian man was arrested in Gothenburg, Sweden according to the Swedish intelligence service Säpo. The suspect has maintained his innocence and will be held in isolation until November 8th.
The Danish government promised swift reaction to the revelations.
Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said Iran’s attempted assassination on Danish soil was “completely unacceptable”. He said the government would “react to Iran” and would work with European partners to take unspecified “additional steps”. More details on Denmark’s reaction to the news would come in a 6.30pm press conference, Samuelsen said.
According to PET's Andersen, the target of the assasination plot is the leder of a Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), a group that supports the establishment of a separate Arab state in Iran’s Khuzestan Province. The group is classified as a terrorist organization by the Iranian government.
Andersen said the individual has been under police protection since the spring after PET became aware of concrete threats against the person’s safety. Two other ASMLA members have also been given police protection. All three members of the group live in the Danish city of Ringsted.
An affiliated separatist group, the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz, claimed responsibility for a September attack on a military parade in Iran that killed at least 29 people, including children. Denmark's ambassador to Iran, Danny Annan, was called to a meeting with officials in Tehran after the attack, along with his British and Dutch counterparts. Iran has accused Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK of providing shelter to Iranian opposition groups.