Global Freedom of Expression

Director of Public Prosecution v. Mansour

Closed Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    June 22, 2015
  • Outcome
    Criminal Sanctions, ECtHR - non Freedom of Expression and Information article violations
  • Case Number
    Case No. S-3475-14
  • Region & Country
    Denmark, Europe and Central Asia
  • Judicial Body
    Appellate Court
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law, International/Regional Human Rights Law
  • Themes
    Content Regulation / Censorship
  • Tags

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Sam Mansour, a Danish bookseller, posted numerous Islamic radical views on his Facebook page, praising terrorism and condoning the acts of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda’s linked-terrorist group operating in Syria and Lebanon. He also communicated his views via email and online distribution of three books. The Eastern High Court in Copenhagen found Mansour guilty of publicly condoning Islamic extremism, inciting terrorism, and expressing anti-Semitism views. The Court sentenced him to 4 years of imprisonment and ordered the revocation of his Danish citizenship upon serving his sentence, the first ever Dane to be revoked of citizenship.

Global Freedom of Expression notes that some of the information contained in this case analysis was derived from secondary sources as the only available court document is currently in Danish language and that the further information has been provided by other sources. 


Sam Mansour, a Danish-Moroccan national, was a bookseller and considered a prominent Islamist in Denmark. In 2007, a municipal court of Denmark convicted him on charges of inciting terrorism. He served 3.5 years in prison.

Later, the public prosecutor once again brought charges against Mansour, including a number of terrorism related offenses for posting numerous online photos, links, and messages on Facebook that praised  “jihad,” terrorism, and expression of support towards al-Qaeda and its Syria-based group of al-Nusra Front.

Among the Defendant’s online postings that the Court emphasized, there was a photo of the World Trade Center in flames and a manipulated 7-11 logo reading “9-11 made by Qaeda.” Also, he posted a picture of horsemen with raised swords and black flags with the following Quranic verse: “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you,” along with a picture of water and rock formations with the following quotation from a Danish Islamist killed in Syria: “Paradise has one hundred degrees and between each two degrees is a distance like that between the heaven and the earth, and Allah has reserved these degrees for the Mujahedeen who fight for his cause.”

Furthermore, the prosecutor charged the Defendant over his online distribution of religious books, which allegedly amounted to terrorism propaganda as well as anti-Semitism expressions.

These subsequent charges were brought before the Eastern High Court in Copenhagen.

Decision Overview

The Eastern High Court convicted Mansour for both “otherwise advancing the activities of another person, group or association, committing or intending to commit terrorism,” incitement to terrorism, and publicly condoning terrorism.

Specifically, the Court found that the defendant had “advanced” terrorism through online posting, editing, and publishing three books on theological justifications for extreme Islamic jihad authored by infamous, radical Muslim cleric, Abu Qatada.

For the first time in Denmark, the Court unanimously revoked the Mansour’s Danish citizenship. It also sentenced him to four years of imprisonment followed by permanent expulsion from the country. It ruled that Mansour’s numerous radical expressions were not protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But the Court did not make any detailed assessment of the competing interests at stake, nor any proportionality test, commonly used when the right to freedom of expression is at stake.

The defendant has expressed his intent of appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Denmark. [1]

[1] Reuters, Denmark Strips Man of Citizenship After Terrorism Conviction, (July 01, 2015),

Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

The decision limits freedom of expression as it imposes criminal sanctions against Sam Mansour for his online postings on Islamic fundamentalism and publishing books including theological discussions on and justifications for jihad, without establishing any clear threshold or test as to what constitutes “advancement” or “condoning” terrorism, and without clarifying the relationship between freedom of expression and “advancement” and “condoning” terrorism.

Global Perspective

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Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

Related International and/or regional laws

  • Council of Europe, Convention on Prevention of Terrorism
  • UN S.C., Res. 1624 (2005)
  • ICCPR, art. 19
  • ECHR, art. 10

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Den., Criminal Code, art. 266(b)
  • Den., Penal Code, art. 136
  • Den., Penal Code, art. 114

Case Significance

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Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

Official Case Documents

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