COPENHAGEN: Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran in response to a plot by Tehran's intelligence services to assassinate an opposition figure on Danish soil.
A Norwegian citizen of Iranian background was arrested for the plot last month, which targeted the leader of the Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), Danish security service chief Finn Borch Andersen said.
"We are dealing with an Iranian intelligence agency planning an attack on Danish soil. Obviously, we can't and won't accept that," Andersen told a news conference.
Denmark's Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said he had recalled Denmark's ambassador in Tehran for consultations after earlier summoning the Iranian ambassador to a meeting at the foreign ministry
"Denmark can in no way accept that people with ties to Iran's intelligence service plot attacks against people in Denmark," Samuelsen said.
He said he believed the Iranian government was behind the attempted attack and said Denmark would push for fresh EU-wide sanctions against Iran.
Iran’s plotting to assassinate on Danish soil is totally unacceptable. Danish ambassador to Tehran has been recalled for consultations. Denmark will discuss further actions with European partners in the coming days. #dkpol
— Anders Samuelsen (@anderssamuelsen) October 30, 2018
"The gravity of the matter is difficult to describe," the minister said earlier. "That has been made crystal clear to the Iranian ambassador in Copenhagen today."
Borch Andersen said Danish police had arrested the Norwegian citizen on Oct. 21 on suspicion of helping an unknown Iranian intelligence service "to act in Denmark" and for involvement in planning to kill an opposition member. The suspect, who was not identified, denied wrongdoing in a court appearance and is in pre-trial custody until Nov. 8.
Norway's Police Security Service said it was cooperating with Danish police on the case, which it also described as a planned attack in Denmark.
On Sept. 28, Danish police shut two major bridges to traffic and halted ferry services from Denmark to Sweden and Germany in a nationwide police operation to prevent a possible attack.
The person had, among others, been seen taking photos of the residences of members of ASMLA in Ringsted, nearly 60 kilometers southwest of Copenhagen.
The group has been named by Tehran as being behind a terror attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz on Sept. 22 that left at least 25 people dead. ASMLA has condemned the attack and said it was not involved.
After that attack, Tehran summoned Denmark's ambassador and accused the Danish government of harboring members of the "terrorist group.”
Borch Andersen said Denmark has worked and is working "with a series of partners in Europe on the case.
During the televised press conference, the head of the intelligence service also noted that Iran earlier had been active against opposition groups abroad.
He singled out a foiled bombing attack that targeted a rally organized by an Iranian opposition group near Paris in June.
The Ahvazi Arabs are a minority in Iran, and some see themselves as under occupation and want independence or autonomy.
*With Reuters and AP