A Danish citizen accused of trying to assassinate Lars Hedegaard, an outspoken critic of Islam and defender of free speech, has been released from jail by Turkey, although it is not clear why. There are suspicions that the 27-year-old man, who has a Lebanese background, may have been released as part of a prisoner swap with ISIS.
As Turkey was refusing to answer any questions about the status of the man, Denmark was forced to send a delegation to Turkey to demand answers. They were able to confirm that the man had indeed been released, but did not find out why, The Local has reported.
Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s new justice minister released a written statement on the matter, reading “I understand that the recent rumours that a Danish citizen was released have been confirmed by the Turkish authorities. I find it completely incomprehensible that the man in question has been released.
“I had expected that the Turkish authorities would have been prepared to give more answers than the delegation received… But I understand that officials from Turkey are working on giving Denmark answers as soon as possible. The government will naturally hold Turkey to that.”
The man is known only as “BH”, a Danish citizen who last year attempted to assassinate Lars Hedegaard. Hedegaard gained notoriety thanks to a high profile court case in which he was accused of making anti-Islamic comments for insinuating that Muslim men rape their female relatives. Although he was convicted by a lower court, he was subsequently cleared of the charges by the Supreme Court in 2012.
In February 2013, ‘BH’, posing as a postal worker, knocked on Hedegaard’s door. When he opened the door, BH drew a gun and shot at him but missed. The two men then wrestled before the gun was dropped to the floor, and BH ran away. He remained on the run for over a year until being arrested in Turkey in April of this year.
Commenting on the assassination attempt, Hedegaard has said that he is convinced the motive was his anti-Islamic comments, telling The Local “I have no doubt at all, but I’d be interested in hearing his explanation. I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me. I’ve had no dealings with him, I haven’t stolen his money or screwed his wife – so what would his motivation then be?”
As regards the release of the prisoner, Hedegaard said “It is scandalous and cheeky of Turkey that we needed to send a Danish delegation all the way down there just to find out what they could have told us a week ago.
“The Turks have placed themselves outside of the regular legal system and with this decision they have also placed themselves outside of common decency.”
Hedegaard has continued to uphold freedom of speech, making the papers again earlier this month for displaying and selling artwork by artist Dan Parks that has been banned in Sweden as racist. He also has plans to run for parliament as an independent.