Terrorism Concerns Danish Politicians Want Stricter Checks on American Travelers
Two parties in Denmark's parliament are calling for stricter checks on American travelers to the country out of terrorism concerns. Danish Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen agrees that restrictions may be necessary.
The conservative Danish People's Party and leftist Social Liberals in Denmark are calling for increased checks on Americans wishing to travel to Denmark, including the introduction of visa requirements and pre-travel disclosures.
"We have had to admit that the Americans have not been as effective in their anti-terrorism efforts as we thought and that the threat against Denmark has grown," says Danish People's Party Justice Spokesman Peter Skaarup.
According to Visit Denmark almost 500,000 Americans visit the country each year. One of those who twice this year availed himself of easy entry into the country was a man recently arrested in Chicago on charges of conspiracy to carry out an attack on the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Although Danish police are currently able to require airlines to provide passenger lists, the Danish People's Party wants a more intensive cooperation with American authorities so that passport control can check whether Americans visiting Denmark have undertaken repeated travel to countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"In particular we should look at Americans with a non-Western background. But we have to ask the Justice Minister to provide a written report on precisely how this can be done," says Skaarup.
Surprisingly, the Danish People's Party has been given the support of the Social Liberal Party, whose Justice Spokeswoman Lone Dybkjær says she is also concerned at developments.
She says she has noted US intelligence statements to Politiken last week that the Chicago incident indicates that terrorists will increasingly attempt to get American passports to allow them easier entry to Europe to carry out terrorist attacks.
American nationals are currently able to travel freely to Denmark and several other European countries. Denmark currently requires visas for travellers from 133 other countries, including African and many Middle Eastern countries.
"To start with, the justice minister should make a proposal. But it may be that we have to be more restrictive towards American nationals. One proposal could be at the EU level -- to introduce the same type of visas from American nationals that Danes must have when they travel to the United States," says Dybkjær.
US Checks Europeans
Danish nationals are required to fill out a form prior to travelling to the United States allowing them to be checked by American authorities prior to arrival.
Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen says it may be necessary to introduce restrictions. "There is no doubt that terrorists are currently trying to organise themselves in many different ways. I will not rule out the possibility of having to introduce a stricter monitoring of travellers from the United States. But any decision must rest on a police evaluation -- so I will be discussing this with the Security and Intelligence Service," says Mikkelsen.
The Socialist People's and Social Democratic parties are also demanding that the justice minister addresses an increased terrorist threat.
The Security and Intelligence Service declined to comment on the issue on Thursday.
Edited by Julian Isherwood