Out in the cold: the spy scandal gripping Denmark – podcast | News

In December 2021 Lars Findsen was the head of Denmark’s foreign intelligence agency. He was on leave at the time, had been overseas for a few days, and boarded a flight home to Copenhagen airport. And it was there in the arrivals hall that armed police quietly approached him and told him he was under arrest on suspicion of treason.

As Harry Davies tells Michael Safi, what followed could have been taken from the pages of an espionage thriller. Findsen had been responsible for Denmark’s biggest intelligence agency. His work had been state secrets. Then he found himself facing secret legal proceedings. And he is not alone: also facing prosecution is Claus Hjort Frederiksen, a towering figure in Danish politics who has held several senior cabinet positions. As defence minister until 2019, he oversaw the intelligence service run by Findsen. Both men are facing prosecution and both believe they are innocent. Findsen has described the charges against him as “completely insane”, while Frederiksen believes his case is politically motivated, likening it to a bewildering “hoax”.

It’s a story of whistleblowers, spies turning on each other and state secrets being spilled on the front pages of newspapers and TV news bulletins. And it begins with the Guardian and the decision a decade ago by an American intelligence contractor named Edward Snowden to reveal some of the US’s deepest secrets to the world.

Claus Hjort FrederiksenPin

Photograph: Ole Jensen/Corbis/Getty Images

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