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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 15:07 GMT
Danes acquitted over Iraq secrets
Michael Bjerre, left, Niels Lunde, centre, and Jesper Larsen
The verdict was hailed as a "victory for open society"
Three Danish journalists who published secret intelligence reports on Iraq have been acquitted of endangering national security.

The court ruled that Niels Lunde, Michael Bjerre and Jesper Larsen had acted in the public interest.

Their articles said Danish intelligence services knew there was no evidence Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the US-led invasion in 2003.

The Danish media had said the case was an important test of press freedom.

The prosecution said publication, by the daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende, was not justified by the public's right to know Danish Defence Intelligence Service (DDIS) assessments.

The DDIS said the leaks undermined its relationships with foreign intelligence organisations.

'Great victory'

A former DDIS officer, Frank Grevil, was jailed for four months last year for leaking the report, which was published in 2004.

He had written the report before the 2003 invasion, concluding that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

An offence of publishing confidential Danish government documents is punishable by fines or up to two years in prison.

After Monday's verdict Mr Lunde, the newspaper's chief editor, flanked by his two journalists, said it was "a great victory for the open society".

Judge Peter Lind Larsen said the "considerable public interest" outweighed the government's fears for its intelligence operations.

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