Danes charge man accused of joining Islamic State group

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — In the first case of its kind in Denmark, a prosecutor has charged a 23-year-old man with violating Danish terrorism laws by joining the Islamic State group in Syria in 2013.

Prosecutor Lise-Lotte Nilas says that any foreign fighter in Syria "basically agreed to take part in terrorist acts that IS commits in the country."

Nilas said Tuesday the unidentified man is also charged with financially supporting IS because he had 20,000 kroner ($3,000) with him in 2014 when he planned to return to Syria but was stopped by Danish police, who arrested him and seized his passport. He had spent three months in Syria starting in mid-July 2013.

A trial could be held early next year. If convicted, the man faces at least four years in prison. It is the first time someone in Denmark has been charged with joining a group like IS.

On Monday, two men in neighboring Sweden were convicted of terror crimes in connection with killings in Syria in 2013, and were sentenced to life in prison.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on Tuesday voted in 111-0 with 68 absentees to change Denmark's penal code to equate joining such armed groups with treason that carries up to a life sentence, which is Denmark generally means 16 years in prison.

The change "means it now becomes treason to join a hostile armed force," Justice Minister Soeren Pind said. "We must not accept that militant extremists recruit foreign fighters in Denmark."

Parliament also made recruiting or urging others to join hostile groups an offense with a maximum sentence of 16 years.

The case of the 23-year-old man would not be affected by the new law, which goes into effect Dec. 31.

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