At least three men who are members of an Iranian separatist group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), have been jailed in pre-trial custody in Denmark until February 27, suspected of spying for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service.
The three members of the London-based group were arrested Monday in Ringsted, 60 kilometres southwest of Copenhagen, for allegedly spying on people and companies over a period of six years from 2012.
ASMLA seeks a separate state for ethnic Arabs in Iran's oil-producing southwestern province of Khuzestan. Arabs are a minority in Iran and some see themselves as under Persian occupation and want independence or autonomy.
They appeared before the nearby Roskilde City Court, where judge John Larsen on Tuesday ordered the hearing held behind closed doors, meaning no details were made public.
Heavily-armed police officers with machine guns guarded the courthouse in Roskilde, about 40 kilometres west of Copenhagen. The men, who can't be named under a court ban, pleaded not guilty.
The men are facing preliminary charges of espionage under a milder paragraph that could give them up to six years in jail.
On Monday, the Saudi ambassador to Denmark, Fahad bin Maayouf Al Ruwaily, was summoned to the Danish foreign ministry.
In the same case, another man was arrested Monday in the Netherlands, the historic Dutch city of Delft, for allegedly plotting one or more terror attacks in Iran and for membership to a terrorist organisation.