Danish authorities have accused the Iranian agents of attempting to carry out a plot to assassinate an Iranian-Arab opposition figure on Danish soil.
The alleged attack had meant to target the leader of the Danish branch of the separatist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), Danish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Møller Ege told CNN.
The group, which Iran classifies as a terror organization, advocates for an independent Arab state within the Iranian province of Khuzestan.
Denmark has summoned Iran’s ambassador, Morteza Moradian, following the alleged “assassination” attempt by an Iranian intelligence agency, which the Nordic country’s foreign minister called “completely unacceptable.”
“An Iranian intelligence agency has planned an assassination on Danish soil. This is completely unacceptable. In fact, the gravity of the matter is difficult to describe. That has been made crystal clear to the Iranian ambassador in Copenhagen today,” Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, said in a statement released Tuesday.
The Foreign Ministry says it will be discussing “the issue of an Iranian intelligence agency’s illegal activities in Europe” with international allies.
Iran blamed ASMLA for carrying out an attack at the end of September which targeted an Iranian military parade, leaving at least 29 people dead and wounding more than 70 others.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry had summoned its ambassadors in the Netherlands and Denmark after that incident, as well as and British charge d’affaires, saying Tehran expressed “severe protest” over those countries for hosting “members of a terrorist group that was behind the terror attack in Ahvaz.”
A person was arrested in Gothenburg in relation to the alleged attempted assassination on October 21, a spokesman from the Swedish Security Service told CNN. The person has been extradited to Denmark, the spokesman said.
Iran ‘strongly’ rejects claim
Iran “strongly” dismissed the claim made by Denmark Tuesday.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi dismissed the claim and said it was in line “with the enemies’ plots and conspiracies against the good and ever-growing Iran-Europe relations under present grave and special conditions,” according to state-run IRNA news.
Denmark will push for new EU-wide sanctions against Iran following the suspected assassination attempt, the ministry confirmed to CNN, adding that the government would be discussing “the issue of an Iranian intelligence agency’s illegal activities in Europe” with international allies.
Following an address by the Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, the ministry also said that its ambassador to Iran had been recalled from Tehran for consultations.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen expressed his concern over the incident via Twitter, stating that “it is totally unacceptable that Iran or any other foreign state plans assassinations on Danish soil,” reiterating that “further actions against Iran will be discussed in the EU.”
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo tweeted his approval of Denmark’s actions in apprehending the man in connection to the plot, who he termed an “assassin,” asserting that the alleged attempted murder was part of a decades-long campaign of terror orchestrated by Tehran.
“We congratulate the government of #Denmark on its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin,” the tweet reads.
“For nearly 40 years, Europe has been the target of #Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks. We call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iran’s threats to peace and security.
European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic, told CNN that the organization is “following the reports and are in contact with the Danish authorities. At this stage, this issue is being directly dealt with by the member state in question.”
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called the incident “deeply concerning,” affirming that the UK is “with Denmark all the way”.
Rasmussen took to Twitter to thank the UK government for its support, posting a picture of his meeting with British Prime minister Theresa May and saying Denmark would work “in close collaboration” with the UK and other countries to “stand up to Iran.”
CNN’s Nada Bashir in London and Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta contributed to this report.