Denmark accuses China, Russia and Iran of spying

Published on Jan. 2022 at 18: 22Updated 13 Jan. 2022 to 18: 42

Denmark is an “attractive target”. Member of NATO and the European Union, “leader in areas related to technology, innovation and research” and sovereign over Greenland: so many reasons, according to the police intelligence service (PET ), so that foreign powers can infiltrate the administration, the armed forces and the companies of this country of less than six million inhabitants.

Because “the threat has become more important”, the PET claims to have “intensified its counterintelligence efforts over the past two years”. A turning point after two decades centered on the terrorist risk. To encourage companies and the scientific community to be vigilant, this service has therefore decided to take stock of the phenomenon in a report published Thursday, the first of its kind (available online, including in English).

According to the document of 32 pages, “the threat emanates in the first place” from Russia, China and Iran, even if other states do not remain inactive. Their motives and centers of interest are not necessarily identical. “As during the Cold War, Russia is focusing on gathering information related to politics, economic and military affairs and issues that could help strengthen its position in the EU.

Beijing “in the gray zone” Iran is singled out for its operations against opponents of the regime in Denmark. But also, like other countries (Russia, China, Pakistan, North Korea and Syria), to “illegally attempt” to obtain Danish technologies and products that can be used for military purposes.

As for China, it features in almost the entire spectrum of activities reviewed. With specificities: its services “have extensive powers to collect information from Chinese companies, organizations and individuals, wherever they are in the world”.

Beijing “uses a multitude of legal and illegal means and approaches in order, among other things, to access knowledge and products” that interest it, details the report. China is “good at operating in the gray zone” between legality and illegality, which represents a new challenge for the PET, admits the head of its counterintelligence department, Anders Henriksen, in the daily “Politiken”.

Tensions in the Arctic Furthermore, the struggle for influence between the United States, Russia and China in the Arctic increases the threat from these last two, according to the PET. They would seek to “create tensions” between Copenhagen, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Danish autonomous territories with independence aspirations. And to “complicate relations with the allies, in particular the United States”.

The publication of the report comes in a particular climate. The former head of the PET, Lars Findsen, who has been in charge of the other Danish intelligence service for seven years (military, him), has been in detention since December 8, accused of having transmitted unspecified confidential information. He faces up to twelve years in prison. About eight journalists were warned by these services that they would risk the same penalty if they published information threatening “national security”.