A Danish court has released 10 men who were charged with fundraising for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The Copenhagen City Court said on Wednesday that prosecutors had not proven that an estimated 130 million kroner ($22 million) transferred to Kurdish organizations was actually channeled to the PKK, according to an Associated Press report.
The PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union.
The acquittal came at a time when criticisms of several Danish officials mounted over Turkey's release of Basil Hassan, a Danish suspect in an assassination attempt against Lars Hedegaard, a former columnist for a top Danish newspaper who is known for his outspoken criticism of Islam. The release of Hassan spurred a crisis between Turkey and Denmark when it was claimed in the media that he was among the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants swapped by Turkey in return for ISIL's release of its hostages in August.
Denmark also summoned the Turkish ambassador, according to reports in the foreign media on Thursday.
Turkey said in a written statement on Wednesday that it understands the concerns extended by the Danish officials and stressed that the decision to release Hassan is not a preference of the government but of the judiciary. “Further developments on the issue will be meticulously followed and our Danish counterparts will be informed as we cooperate with them,” read the statement.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said on Tuesday that Denmark is still seeking answers as to why Hassan is not under arrest. Speaking to the Danish Politiken daily, she said it is unacceptable that Turkey has released the suspect and that the matter is not over.
Danish Justice Minister Mette Frederiksen also said on Sunday that Turkish officials have confirmed the release of the suspect in an assassination attempt against Hedegaard, but offered no explanation as to why he was released. Frederiksen expressed her anger at not getting a response from Turkey after a delegation of Danish officials visited Ankara last Friday, saying: “The Turkish authorities have refrained from giving an answer concerning this matter. We are still waiting for an explanation as to why the suspect was released from custody in Turkey.”
Denmark sent a delegation of government officials to Turkey on Oct. 17 to meet with the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice regarding the status of the suspect, but is unhappy with the lack of information provided regarding the release.
The confirmation of the release of the suspect has stirred a strong reaction in Denmark. Hedegaard, a historian and author known for his anti-Islamic views, was convicted of hate speech for his remarks about Muslims. The conviction was later overturned by a higher court.
The Turkish press quoted Frederiksen as saying: "Turkish officials have confirmed the release of the suspect previously involved in an armed assault on Lars Hedegaard. As is known, the release of said suspect has been debated for the last couple of weeks. It has now been confirmed. But it is not possible to understand or accept Turkey's approach.”