Danish newspaper, chief editor fined for ex-spy boss book

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A major Danish newspaper and its chief editor were fined 150,000 kroner ($22,900) on Friday for publishing a book based on interviews with Denmark’s former domestic intelligence agency chief that the spy service had claimed could contain secrets.

The Copenhagen City Court says Politiken boss Christian Jensen violated a ban by publishing the book, which is based on Jakob Scharf’s seven years as head of the Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service, known as PET.

The court ordered the paper to pay 100,000 kroner and Jensen 50,000 kroner.

The agency had demanded a fine of 15 million kroner ($2.23 million) and four months in prison for Jensen.

On Oct. 6, 2016, PET issued court injunctions against 40 bookstores and Politiken’s media group, JP/Politiken, which also includes the Jyllands-Posten and Ekstra Bladet newspapers. While stores didn’t sell the book, Politiken published it as a supplement to its subscribers on Oct. 9, citing freedom of the press.

“I have always said that I am not above national laws. Now the court has spoken, and I accept its decision,” Jensen said.

Politiken CEO Stig Kirk Oerskov said the daily accepted the fine.

Danish media widely criticized the court injunction against the press, with Ekstra Bladet chief editor Poul Madsen saying it was “completely ludicrous” that PET “dictates what the free press should print.”

Scharf, PET chief from 2007-2013, was in charge when PET foiled terror attacks, mainly linked to the 2005 publication in a newspaper of 12 cartoons by various artists depicting the Prophet Muhammad.