The financial cost of protecting Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is becoming an increasing burden on the Danish government.
PET, the Danish Intelligence and Security Service, has introduced a new bodyguard system for the artist which will see security operational round-the-clock at an estimated cost of 30 annual full-time salary equivalents.
Politiken reports that a full-time agent with PET costs an estimated DKK 700,000 which it claims would result in an annual bill of DKK 19.5 million (USD 3.8 million) for wages alone, excluding technical operating equipment.
Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen announced the 24-7 surveillance measures following the attempted attack last week on the artist by a Somali man who broke into Westergaard’s house. Mikkelsen has determined that Westergaard should be afforded full-time bodyguards for his personal safety in addition to the 24-7 home surveillance operation. The residence already has a range of expensive security equipment including CCTV monitors, a fortified bathroom, alarms and customised locks.
“In PET’s view the security precautions that have regularly been adjusted, worked according to plan and delayed entry to the house so that police could reach the house in time and arrest the attacker,” said PET in a statement, though adding that Westergaard could well be more vulnerable following the incident. “In the light of the attempt, and public exposure in Denmark and abroad of some of the security precautions in relation to Kurt Westergaard, PET is to adjust these precautions,” the agency said.