Jakob Scharf, the head of PET, said the arrests prevented an imminent attack [Reuters] 

Three men suspected of preparing a deadly attack on a newspaper in Copenhagen have been charged by a Danish court with plotting an act of terrorism.

Police detained four men in Denmark and one in Sweden on Wednesday on suspicion of planning an armed assault on the offices of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that outraged Muslims in 2005 with cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

One of those held in Denmark was released and the man arrested in Sweden was remanded in custody by a Swedish court.

The three charged were a 44-year-old Tunisian and two Swedish citizens aged 29 and 30.

Lykke Sorensen, an official of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), told reporters at Glostrup courthouse that the three men, who arrived in Denmark from Sweden late on Tuesday, denied the charges.

They were also accused of illegally possessing weapons, Sorensen said.

The plot further raised fears in the Nordic region after an unsuccessful bomb attack in Stockholm earlier this month, although authorities in Sweden and Denmark have not raised alert levels.

The suspects in Denmark will stay in custody for four weeks.

In Sweden, prosecutors must present their case by January 13 against the 37-year-old Swedish citizen held there.

The man released in Denmark was a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum-seeker. Sorensen said he remained a suspect.

'Mumbai-style' attack

"The investigation will continue in close co-operation between the police, the PET and SAPO [Swedish security police]," Sorensen told reporters.

Jakob Scharf, the head of PET, said the arrests prevented an imminent attack aimed to kill as many as possible at the newspaper's offices.

He said the plotters were probably a militant Islamist group with links to international terrorist networks and described the plot as a "Mumbai-style" attack.

In 2008, Pakistani gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day raid on landmarks in the Indian city, including two hotels and a Jewish centre.

Swedish police began tracking three of the suspects in Sweden before they entered Denmark on the night of December 28, Danish and Swedish security officials said.

Without giving a source for its information, a Swedish paper said SAPO had a tracking device on the suspects' car.

Swedish police said the plot had no known links to the December 11 bomb blasts in Stockholm.

Source: Agencies