Denmark suspends foreign spy agency chief, 2 others

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Denmark's government said Monday that the head of the country's foreign intelligence service has been 'œrelieved of duty for the time being'ť after an independent watchdog heavily criticized the spy agency for deliberately withholding information and violating Danish laws.

Lars Findsen took the helm of the Danish Defense Intelligence Service in 2015, and he headed the domestic intelligence service from 2002 to 2007. Two other senior DDIS employees who weren't identified were relieved of their duties at the agency, which is also responsible for military intelligence.

The Danish Intelligence Oversight Board, an independent body monitoring Denmark's spy agencies, said the foreign intelligence service 'œhad withheld key and crucial information'ť and given 'œincorrect information on matters" regarding its work.

The board said DDIS had initiated operations that were contrary to Danish law and had obtained and shared 'œa significant amount'ť of information about Danish citizens. No details were given.

'œIt is absolutely vital that we can have confidence that our intelligence services are acting within their powers,'ť Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said. She added that there must be no doubt as to whether the intelligence services 'œwork closely with control and supervisory bodies.'ť

The oversight board said the allegedly improper activities were on top of 'œan inappropriate legality culture'ť within the spy agency in which cases 'œare sought to be shelved.'ť

The Danish military has been at the center of scandals in recent months involving high-ranking officers who have been favoring relatives.

Denmark has two intelligence agencies, the DDIS and the domestic Danish Security and Intelligence Service, known by its Danish acronym PET.

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