Sandberg should not have brought work phone to Iran
The Norwegian Minister of Fisheries, Per Sandberg (Progress Party) admits that he did not comply with safety guidelines when he brought a work phone along on a holiday in Iran together with his Iranian girlfriend.
– I admit that I’ve made a mistake. I should have notified about the trip ahead of time and I should not have brought the work phone with me to Iran. It is always important to follow safety guidelines, and I did not behave in line with the routines. I have learned from this, writes Per Sandberg in an email to Dagbladet on Thursday.
Sandberg has stated that the phone was left behind in his luggage much of the time. Pictures he has shared on social media shows that he was, among other activities, water skiing.
Brought a case processing system along
The newspaper has asked if Sandberg has installed the Ministry’s case processing system on the phone, something Communications Manager in the department, Martine Røiseland, confirmed is the case.
Dagbladet knows that the case processing systems in the ministries can be used to read about current matters that are under consideration, drafts of Government memoranda and also final mark-ups of memoranda.
These are consistently withheld from the public and often involve politically sensitive issues. The case processing system also contains other sensitive documents that are of great interest to unauthorized parties such as other countries and media.
Former Head of Intelligence, Ola Kaldager, believes Sandberg should have been more cautious. That a seated government council brings his mobile phone to a country known for its extensive espionage in Western countries, he believes is unprecedented.
– It’s standard procedure when working for the public to leave mobile phones behind when visiting other countries or unsafe locations. Especially when holding positions in a ministry or work for the army, Kaldager informs Fiskeribladet. Kaldager was formerly heading the Norwegian intelligence organisation E 14.
Can be used for espionage
Sandberg’s contact with the Norwegian-Iranian society can also make him an important part of Iran’s monitoring of exiled Iranians, Kaldager believes.
– Countries in the Middle East is on equal terms with the West when it comes to modern espionage technology. Mobiles and other computers are very easy to access, Kaldager informs.
In the interview, Kaldager claims that Iran conducts extensive surveillance of Iranians in Norway, among other things because they are monitoring those who criticize the regime. He believes that a Cabinet Minister with ties to Iranians in Norway is interesting from a surveillance point of view.
The former head of Military Intelligence believes Sandberg’s phone has been hacked
The former boss of the Norwegian Military Intelligence Service, Kjell Grandhagen, is convinced that Iranian authorities have hacked Per Sandberg’s mobile phone.
– Iranian authorities have been aware that Sandberg was coming. Iranian intelligence is very advanced and they have had every chance of hacking his phone, says the head of Intelligence to NRK News.
Grandhagen says Iranian authorities are very interested in the content of a Norwegian Cabinet Minister’s phone or other computers.
Lots of information
– On a mobile phone like Sandberg’s, there is quite a lot of information to be found. They will be interested in his network of contacts, cell phone numbers, email addresses, calendar, documents, messages – in short, all of his online activities, says Grandhagen.
– That the case processing system was installed makes it even more serious and highlights why a rigid regime is required with strict security rules when politicians and important state employees travel to such places, he says.
Exceptionally poor judgment
Grandhagen believes the Minister of Fisheries has shown poor judgment.
– Han er vel omtrent den eneste i verden som tror at en statsråd kan reise på en privatreise til et av de tre landene som listet i risikovurderingen til E-tjenesten og PST. He has been naive and shown exceptionally poor judgment, says Grandhagen.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today