'Fighters+Lovers' Danish Court Finds T-Shirt Group Guilty of Funding Terrorism

The Danish Supreme Court has ruled that six members of Denmark's 'Fighters+Lovers' group are guilty of supporting terrorism -- but handed them all suspended sentences.

It started as an experiment in low-end radical chic -- a business to "produce funky street wear" and send money to "freedom fighters" in various parts of the world. But Fighers+Lovers, a small Denmark-based activist group, stands accused of providing financial support to two armed terrorist organizations outside Denmark -- the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

The Danish Supreme Court upheld convictions against six members of the group on Wednesday, but handed down suspended sentences.

At the center of the case was the sale of T-shirts with PFLP and FARC logos. About €5 ($6.75) from each sale -- or around 20 percent of the total price -- were donated to the two movements.

The group's Web site admitted the problem up front: "Both FARC and PFLP are on the EU terror list." But it claimed the group was mounting a protest. "The EU terror list is a political document that has no judicial validity in Denmark," the satement said. "Through its products and communication projects, (Fighters+Lovers) challenges the Danish terror legislation that threatens our democratic liberties."

In 2007 a lower court found that the PFLP and FARC did carry out actions that could come under terrorism legislation, but didn't see evidence that they were attempting to overthrow a government. On this basis the court acquitted seven members of Fighters+Lovers.

After an appeal to the High Court, however, two members of the group were sentenced to six months in prison. The rest of the group was either found not guilty or given suspended sentences of 2 to 4 months.

The group appealed, and the High Court ruled against its members on Wednesday -- without, however, throwing any of them in jail. It upheld all convictions but changed two six-month prison sentences to conditional sentences, and lowered a third defendant's four-month suspended sentence to 60 days.

Both the PFLP and FARC are listed as terrorist organizations by the EU, Canada and the United States.

Defining Terrorism

As the group awaited its final verdict, debate flared in Denmark over the meaning of "terrorism." Was there, for example, a difference between a terrorist organization and a group trying to fight an undemocratic regime, or a power of occupation?

Denmark's justice minister, Brian Mikkelsen, said: "Terrorism is defined in relation to a legitimate state which builds on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Part of the evaluation is also whether an act is targeted at, among others, an occupation power."

The prosecution in the case has argued that the defining factor is whether civilians are killed, regardless of whether a national government is democratic.

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