The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the Danish authorities for putting on trial there journalists who revealed alleged government doubts over Iraq’s weapons of mass desctruction.
Niels Lunde, editor of Berlingske Tidende newspaper, and reporters Michael Bjerre and Jesper Larsen, are accused of publishing confidential government documents,and could face up to two years in prison.
In February and March 2004, Bjerre and Larsen wrote a series of articles based on leaked reports from the Danish Defence Intelligence Service.
The reports said there was no evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction during Saddam Hussein's rule – one of the main reasons cited for the invasion of the country by a US-led coalition which included Denmark.
IFJ general secretary Aidan White said: “These reports were professional, legitimate pieces of quality journalism on a matter of the highest public interest. It is astonishing that the journalists have been charged and brought to court.
“There was nothing in these reports to endanger Danish soldiers or Danish national security. It is entirely legitimate to scrutinise the government's arguments and its decisions. The only thing that has been damaged here is the credibility of the government, but it is not the responsibility of journalists and media to promote or defend the image of government."