Denmark: Danish citizens held in Iraq

Sweden, meanwhile, is demanding the release of Swedish citizens held in Ethiopia.

US forces in Iraq have held a Danish citizen of Iraqi descent and another Iraqi with residency in Denmark as prisoners in a Baghdad
camp since December without informing Danish authorities, intelligence sources discovered in late March.

Upon learning the information, Per Stig Møller, the foreign minister, wrote a letter to the US government strongly criticising the action and demanding an explanation.

Møller said the US responded that the man in question was not registered as a Danish citizen.

The man was reportedly captured by American forces because he came too close to a weapons depot. He has told Danish authorities that he was cleared of any charges by an Iraqi court, but that he is still being held at the prison camp as a 'security risk'.

The government is continuing its efforts to find out why the man is still being held.

'UN regulations permit someone to be held if they pose a security risk,' said Møller. 'We have to find out exactly what this risk is that the US is so afraid of.'

While authorities have been in contact with the man holding Danish citizenship, they have had little luck in reaching the Iraqi man with the residency permit.

Political parties from all sides criticised the US for its actions. Holger K Nielsen, leader of the Socialist People's Party, called the situation 'scandalous', while Mogens Lykketoft, the Social Democratic foreign affairs spokesperson, spoke more diplomatically about the episode.

'It's deeply worrying that the government had such a difficult time getting access to a Danish citizen despite the fact that we've been the US's closest ally in Iraq,' he said.

The Danish People's Party, which has generally supported American military activities in Iraq, also criticised the US for not informing Denmark of the situation. But Søren Espersen, the party's foreign affairs spokesperson, said there was still concern about what the arrested man was doing in Iraq.

'I don't really believe that an Iraqi man with Danish citizenship who gets arrested in Baghdad was on holiday. But I would like to know more about it, and we need to look into the situation.'

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

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