Russian accused of spying co-operates with the PST
The Russian citizen who is charged with illegal intelligence collaborates with PST, announces his Norwegian defence attorney, Hege Aakre.
A Russian citizen was detained for two weeks accused of illegal intelligence gathering after a seminar in the Norwegian Parliament.
His defence lawyer, Hege Kristine Aakre, says her client denies culpability.
– He believes that it is due to a misunderstanding, Aakre writes to NTB.
She does not want to answer what kind of misunderstanding it is referred to, or in what capacity the man participated in the seminar. Nor where the man lives.
NSM provides assistance
– All I can say is that he is co-operating with the police in order to unravel the misunderstandings, she says.
To VG, Aakre has stated that the Police Security Service (PST) has seized electronic equipment in connection with the arrest.
The Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) provides technical assistance in investigating the Russian.
– We were asked by the police security service earlier this weekend to provide technical assistance, and have complied to the request, says Communications Director in NSM, Mona Strøm Arnøy, to NTB.
PST warned against Russia at an open conference
In the threat assessment for 2018, PST said that intelligence from countries such as Russia is the biggest threat to Norwegian interests. Conferences were mentioned as possible arenas.
On Friday evening a Russian citizen was arrested at Gardermoen, charged with illegal intelligence after an international conference on digitisation in the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) where participants from 34 countries were present.
In the threat assessment for 2018, published in January, The Police Security Service (PST) highlighted conferences and seminars on that type of topics as possible targets for foreign intelligence officers.
– Foreign intelligence services will try to recruit people in Norway with access to Norwegian assets, that are worthy to protect, in the coming year, according to PST.
– As a rule, those officers will have a cover and position that makes it natural to have contact. We see that intelligence officers especially target open seminars and conferences on topics such as security, the northern regions, technology and innovation, as venues for establishing such contacts, according to PST.
At the same time, PST boss, Benedicte Bjørnland, stated that intelligence organisations from foreign countries – especially Russia and China – pose the largest threats to Norwegian interests in 2018. That made the Russian embassy to react.
– This is not the first time that PST attempt to scare Norwegians in connection with the mythical threat from Russia, they wrote in a responsive statement to the NRK.
– Particularly the call to «look after» colleagues at work and referrals to «intelligence officers who use open seminars and conferences on topics such as security policy, northern policy, technology and innovation», the embassy went on to state.
NTB has attempted to contact the Russian embassy in connection with Friday’s arrest but has so far not received an answer.
Russia’s embassy in Oslo calls the imprisonment of a Russian accused of illegal intelligence gathering in Norway a «constructed and absurd» pretext.
– We confirm that a Russian citizen was arrested at Oslo Airport on September 21st, 2018 after taking part in an international seminar in the Norwegian Parliament, writes the embassy on Facebook.
– The embassy assesses the arrest and the subsequent detention as a constructed invention, under an absurd pretext, they continue.
Furthermore, they write that they provide consular assistance to the detained Russian and protect his citizen’s rights and interests.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today