Fri, Mar 27, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Danish activists found guilty of terror over selling FARC and PFLP T-shirts

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Six Danish activists who sold T-shirts bearing the logos of two groups classified by the EU as terrorist organizations have been found guilty of financing terrorism.

Denmark’s Supreme Court ruled that the six — all members of the Fighters+Lovers collective — were found to have contravened the country’s anti-terror laws by selling T-shirts to help fund the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). All the defendants received suspended prison sentences of between two and six months.

The case, which has prompted Denmark’s biggest debate over freedom of expression since the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed four years ago, began in January 2006 when Fighters+Lovers launched a collection of T-shirts under the slogan “Look Great And Stand Up For Freedom.”

The shirts were sold on the Internet for £15 (US$22), with about £3.5 of the purchase price going to support “humanitarian projects” carried out by FARC and the PFLP. But the collective, which describes itself as “a brand, a cloth company and a record label” working “on the borderline between fashion, culture and politics,” soon fell foul of the law, and in February 2006, the defendants were arrested. All the T-shirts were seized and the group’s bank account was frozen before any money could reach FARC and the PFLP.

The accused denied committing any crime, arguing that the EU “terror list” was undemocratic because it was drawn up behind closed doors according to unknown criteria. They also maintained that both the PFLP and FARC were not terrorist groups but legitimate resistance movements comparable to Denmark’s own resistance fighters, who took on the Nazis during World War II.

One of the defendants, Katrine Willumsen, a 26-year-old student, said that she and her fellow campaigners were examining their options and considering an appeal.

“We have taken this to the highest level in Denmark but we are considering applying to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg,” she said. “The verdict is very bad and it’s not just a problem for us: It’s a problem for the whole of Denmark.”

However, Ulrik Kohl, who was given a six-month suspended sentence, said that the group’s plight had inspired others to fight for freedom of expression.

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