The pressure increases on the Prime Minister and Sandberg
Both the Minister of Fisheries, Per Sandberg (Progress Party) and Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives) must answer a large number of questions about the Cabinet Minister’s controversial trip to Iran.
Solberg would not comment on the media articles on Sunday in Adresseavisen, that she was notified of Per Sandberg’s relationship with the Norwegian-Iranian woman, Bahareh Letnes, back in May.
– I will not comment on individual parts of what are speculations and articles in the media, says Solberg, who will not say whether or not she informed the Police Security Service (PST) about the relationship.
Sandberg is facing a storm after it became known that he ignored several safety routines when he and his girlfriend visited Iran in July. Neither his own ministry nor the Prime Minister’s office was notified of the trip in advance, and Sandberg even brought his work phone, which contained sensitive information to Iran, contrary to the strong advice by PST not to do so.
The Minister of Fisheries has been criticized for attending the celebration of Iran’s Revolution Day under the auspices of the country’s embassy in Norway in his role as a Cabinet Minister without clearing that with his boss.
Per Sandberg’s daughter, Charlotte Sandberg, tells TV 2 that the reason her father did not inform the Prime Minister’s office ahead of time, is that he would avoid his estranged wife finding out about it. Sandberg’s separated wife, Line Miriam Sandberg, is a State Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
On NTB’s questions about what she thinks about that a member of her Government places private concerns above Security and Government routines, Solberg answers:
– I have always been clear on that the violations of the regulations we have experienced are totally unacceptable. Per Sandberg has also been clear on this.
In the next few days, Solberg and Sandberg will provide the answers to a total of seven written questions about the matter penned by the opposition in Parliament. Among the questions are:
- What could potentially have been leaked from Sandberg’s phone?
- What are the consequences for Sandberg? Does Solberg still have trust in him?
- Have there been similar breaches of the routines in other ministries?
There is currently an open question whether the Parliament will settle for the answers they receive from Solberg and Sandberg, or if the matter will be passed on to the Control and Constitution Committee in the Parliament.
On Friday, TV 2 also announced that Sandberg has refused several offers from the Police Security Service (PST) regarding security briefings prior to travelling to high-risk countries such as Russia and China.
Sandberg denies to NTB that he has refused any such briefings.
– Complete and utter lies, he said on Saturday.
A few weeks ago, several diplomats appeared in Aftenposten and told that they had lost their security clearance – and hence the job – because they were married to a foreign national.
– What do you think about the Sandberg case in light of this?
– Security clearings are done by the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM). There have been no changes here, only a clarification of the principles. It is not an individual happening or a single case that determines these decisions. It is an overall assessment, Solberg answers.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today