Suspect in Danish prime minister attack to appear in hearing

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A man accused of assaulting the Danish Prime Minister in central Copenhagen will appear in a pre-trial custody hearing on Saturday, authorities said.

Police confirmed “there has been an incident” with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Friday and that a 39-year-old man was arrested. They didn’t provide further details and it wasn’t clear if Frederiksen was hurt.

The man is expected to arrive at 1100 GMT at the Copenhagen District Court in Frederiksberg, a municipality enclave within the Danish capital.

The prime minister’s office told the Danish state broadcaster DR on Friday that Frederiksen was “shocked” by what happened.

Two eyewitnesses, Anna Ravn and Marie Adrian, told the daily BT that they saw a man walking toward Frederiksen and then “pushing her hard on the shoulder so she was shoved aside.” They stressed that the premier did not fall down.

Another witness, Kasper Jørgensen, told the Ekstra Bladet tabloid that a well-dressed man, who seemed part of Frederiksen’s protection unit, and a police officer took down the alleged assailant.

Søren Kjærgaard who was working at a local bar on Kultorvet Square where the incident happened told the BT that he saw Frederiksen after the incident and she had no visible injuries to her face but walked away quickly.

Politicians in the Scandinavian country and abroad condemned the reported assault.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, said he was shocked to hear what happened to Frederiksen, whom he called a friend.

“NATO allies stand together to protect our values, freedom, democracy and our rule of law,” Stoltenberg wrote on the social media platform, X, on Saturday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that “an attack on a democratically elected leader is also an attack on our democracy.” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said he strongly condemned “all forms of violence against the democratically elected leaders of our free societies.”

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, condemned on X what he called a “cowardly act of aggression.”

European Union parliamentary elections are currently underway in Denmark and the rest of the 27-nation bloc and will conclude Sunday.

Frederiksen has been campaigning with the Social Democrats’ EU lead candidate, Christel Schaldemose. Media reports said the attack was not linked to a campaign event.

Violence against politicians has become a theme in the run-up to the EU elections. In May, a candidate from Germany’s center-left Social Democrats was beaten and seriously injured while campaigning for a seat in the European Parliament.

In Slovakia, the election campaign was overshadowed by an attempt to assassinate populist Prime Minister Robert Fico on May 15, sending shockwaves through the nation of 5.4 million and reverberating throughout Europe.

Frederiksen, 46, is the leader of the Social Democratic Party and has been Denmark’s prime minister since 2019.

She has steered Denmark through the global COVID-19 pandemic and a controversial 2020 decision to wipe out Denmark’s entire captive mink population to minimize the risk of the small mammals retransmitting the virus.

Assaults on politicians in Denmark are rare.

On March 23, 2003, two activists threw red paint on then-Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen inside the parliament and were immediately arrested. Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller also suffered some splashes that day.

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