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Denmark: Action Taken Against Book Publication on National Security Grounds

(Sept. 24, 2009) On September 16, 2009, the Danish newspaper POLITIKEN published a book entitled JÆGER – I KRIG MED ELITEN (HUNTER – AT WAR WITH THE ELITE), by former special forces officer Thomas Rathsack, despite a government request that it be withheld from the public on national security grounds. Tim Sloth Jørgenson, Denmark's Defense Chief, asked police to press charges against the newspaper and defended his actions by stating that publication of the book would put Danish soldiers at risk. He went on to say that a few edits would have been sufficient to prevent any difficulty. The military had previously requested a court injunction against the publication and against any press coverage of the work. The author describes his experiences serving in the Danish military in Afghanistan and Iraq, but without giving specific names or locations. (Legal Action Is Being Pursued to Stop Publication of a Book Claimed to Threaten National Security, COPENHAGEN POST ONLINE, Sept. 18, 2009, available at
; Jan M. Olsen, Danish Daily Prints Soldier's Book Despite Protest, FORBES.COM, Sept. 16, 2009, available at

In reaction, the newpaper's editor, Tøger Seidenfraden, stated that if the matter goes to court, “we'll finally find out whether the military can edit books in this country and whether they can decide what can and what can't be published.” (COPENHAGEN POST, id.)

Although sales of the issue have been strong, with that edition of POLITIKEN selling out, in a recent poll 54 percent of Danes expressed opposition to the publication, calling it a publicity stunt by the newspaper. The newspaper proceeded without approval from the book's publisher, which holds a copyright, but observers predicted that any loss in sales of the book would be balanced by an increase in lecture requests due to the media coverage of the matter. (Id.) Excerpts from the book had been published previously, but POLITIKEN was the first to print the entire text. (Olsen, supra.)