- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2020

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - A court in Denmark sentenced on Friday a 40-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian descent to seven years in prison after he was found guilty of spying for Iran and being accessory to attempts to commit murder on Danish soil.

The man, who was not identified by the court, “collected information about an exiled Iranian in Denmark” during the period of Sept. 25-27, 2018.

The Roskilde city court said it was “proven” that the information was handed over to a person working for an unnamed Iranian intelligence service. It added that online chats between the defendant and the person working for the Iranian intelligence service “weighed in” as evidence.

The court in Roskilde, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Copenhagen, also sentenced him to be expelled from Denmark after having served his time, with a permanent entry ban.

The man should have realized his activities for an Iranian intelligence agency were illegal under Danish law, the court said. And he must have known that his activities helped the Iranian intelligence service prepare for an attempted murder, making him an accessory, the court said.

The court statement said the defendant pleaded not guilty and declined to speak during the trial, which was held behind closed doors.

The case is linked to a 2018 police operation targeting an alleged Iranian plot to kill one or more opponents of the Iranian government. The operation briefly cut off the island on which Copenhagen sits from the rest of Denmark.

As part of the investigation, three men who are members of an Iranian separatist group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, were accused of spying in Denmark for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service.

The three men of the London-based group were arrested in February in Ringsted, 60 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of Copenhagen, suspected of spying on people and companies over a period of six years, beginning in 2012.

One or all of them are believed to have been the target of the plot involving the Norwegian man of Iranian descent. His citizenship was not given.

The court said the man appealed the verdict.

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