Journalists not guilty of leaking state secrets

December 4, 2006

Original Alert: May 1, 2006
Niels Lunde, Berlingske Tidende
Michael Bjerre, Berlingske Tidende
Jesper Larsen, Berlingske Tidende
Legal Action

Judge Peter Lind Larsen of the Copenhagen City Court found Berlingske Tidende editor-in-chief Lunde, and reporters Bjerre and Larsen not guilty of leaking state secrets by publishing intelligence reports that questioned the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The judge said “considerable public interest” outweighed the government’s concerns of a security breach, according to international press reports.

The Danish state prosecutor charged the journalists in April with leaking state secrets in articles they published in the conservative Copenhagen daily in 2004. The news reports had also questioned Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s decision to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to international press reports. The journalists faced up to two years in jail if convicted.

During the trial, which started on November 13, Prosecutor Michael Joergenson told the court that the journalists violated a media law and jeopardized national security. However, Judge Larsen acquitted Lunde, Bjerre and Larsen of all charges.