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Denmark27 April 2004

Two journalists charged with publishing confidential military information

Reporters Without Borders condemned charges against two journalists on the conservative daily Berlingske Tidende for reporting confidential information from a Defence Intelligence Service (FE) agent, that cast doubt on the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq.

"It would unacceptable for these journalists to be convicted for having made information available to the Danish public, that calls into question a major foreign policy decision and is clearly of general interest," said the international press freedom organisation.

Jesper Larsen and Michael Bjerre were both questioned and charged on 26 April for "publishing information illegally obtained by a third party" under Article 152-d of the criminal code. They risk a six-month prison sentence.

In a series of articles from 22 February 2004, the journalists quoted extracts from Danish military intelligence reports, passed to them by agent Frank Soeholm Grevil, according to which there was no credible information available on the existence of WMD in Iraq before the March 2003 military intervention.

The existence of WMD was the chief argument advanced by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to justify Danish involvement alongside the US-British coalition. Grevil, who was also charged, had been unhappy at the way in which FE reports were interpreted by the government.

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