GLOSTRUP, Denmark (Reuters) - Three men suspected of preparing a deadly attack on a newspaper were charged by a Danish court on Thursday with plotting an act of terrorism.
Police detained four men in Denmark and one in Sweden on Wednesday on suspicion of planning an armed assault on the offices of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that outraged Muslims in 2005 with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
One of those held in Denmark was released and the man arrested in Sweden was remanded in custody by a Swedish court.
The three charged were a 44-year-old Tunisian and two Swedish citizens aged 29 and 30.
Lykke Sorensen, an official of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, told reporters at Glostrup courthouse the three, who arrived in Denmark from Sweden late on Tuesday, denied the charges.
They were also accused of illegally possessing weapons, Sorensen said.
The plot further raised fears in the Nordic region after an unsuccessful bomb attack in Stockholm earlier this month, although authorities in Sweden and Denmark have not raised alert levels.
The suspects in Denmark will stay in custody for four weeks.
In Sweden, prosecutors must present their case by January 13 against the 37-year-old Swedish citizen held there. The man released in Denmark was a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum-seeker. Sorensen said he remained a suspect.
“The investigation will continue in close cooperation between the police, the PET and (Swedish security police) SAPO,” Sorensen told reporters.
The cartoons provoked violent protests against Danish and European interests in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in which at least 50 people were killed.
The furor over the caricatures, including one of the Prophet with a turban resembling a bomb, has led to several plots against the paper, cartoonists and other journalists involved.
Danish security police chief Jakob Scharf had said the arrests prevented an imminent attack aimed to kill as many as possible at the newspaper’s offices.
He said the plotters were probably a militant Islamist group with links to international terrorist networks and described the plot as a “Mumbai-style” attack.
In 2008, Pakistani gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day raid on landmarks in the Indian city, including two hotels and a Jewish center.
Zubair Hussain, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Denmark representing more than 30,000 of the estimated 200,000 Muslims in the country, condemned the plotters’ plans.
“As Danish Muslims, we feel it is important to say that this has nothing to do with Islam,” he said. “We are all victims in this case. No one will ask before they blow something in the air, or before they shoot, ‘are you Muslim or non-Muslim?’”
Swedish police began tracking three of the suspects in Sweden before they entered Denmark on the night of December 28, Danish and Swedish security officials said.
Without giving a source for its information, a Swedish paper said SAPO had a tracking device on the suspects’ car.
Swedish police said the plot had no known links to the December 11 bomb blasts in Stockholm.
Writing by John Acher and Anna Ringstrom; additional reporting by Johan Sennero in Stockholm and Anna Ringstrom; editing by Andrew Dobbie