A complete and utter lie! – says Sandberg
Per Sandberg (Frp) accuses Norwegian TV 2 of lying after their announcement that he said no thank you to security talks with PST before travelling to China and Russia.
– This is a blatant lie, which follows in the series of lies and untruths from TV 2 in the last 14 days. This is pure cowardice, Sandberg tells NTB.
TV 2 reported Friday night that Sandberg said thanks, but no thanks to a security briefing from PST (Police Security forces) before making several important foreign voyages to Russia in June 2016 and September 2017, and to China in May 2017 and May 2018.
The accusations of lies are received stoically by the newscaster.
Both TV 2’s News Editor, Karianne Solbrække, and journalist Kadafi Zaman say to NTB they have reliable sources in the matter but do not want to provide any details beyond that.
– I do not comment on my sources. But if Sandberg and the Ministry of Fisheries believe TV 2’s information is incorrect, then they have to publish the list of how many and what security briefings Sandberg have said no to, says Zaman.
– This is the burden of proof turned upside down. Can TV 2 not provide proof? Sandberg replies.
Asked whether he will now report TV 2 to the Press’ Ethics Committee (PFU), the minister replies:
– I do not comment on what I want to do next.
Sandberg has been met a wall of criticism after it became known that he travelled to Iran together with his girlfriend, Norwegian-Iranian Bahareh Letnes, without notifying the office of the Prime Minister in advance. Sandberg brought his job mobile, which contained sensitive information, on the trip, contrary to the general advice by PST never to bring such phones to high-risk countries like Iran.
The opposition in the Parliament has made a number of queries both to the Minister of Fisheries, Per Sandberg, and Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives).
Solberg announced Friday that her reply will be forthcoming on Monday.
PST: Russia and China the worst
PST routinely provides offers of advice to members of the Government who are travelling to high-risk countries. When PST presented its annual threat assessment earlier this year, espionage from Russia and China was featured as the biggest threats to Norwegian interests.
– before almost all the trips we make, especially when it comes to this type of high-risk country, we have a briefing. I have not received it every single time I have been travelling, but we get it on a regular basis, Sandberg has previously told TV 2.
According to TV 2, it is unclear whether Sandberg himself or his ministry has refused to the security briefing ahead of the trips to Russia and China.
– We have asked both the ministry and the Prime Minister’s office to comment on this, but have not received an answer, says Zaman.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today