Norway police arrest citizen suspected of spying for Russia

Man detained in Norway’s capital, Oslo, suspected of ‘harming vital national interests’, according to police.

Police is seen at the site after a shooting in al-Noor Islamic center mosque, near Oslo, Norway August 10, 2019. NTB Scanpix/Terje Pedersen via REUTERS
The arrest took place at a restaurant in Oslo on Saturday during a meeting of the two, police said [NTB Scanpix/Terje Pedersen/Reuters]

Police in Oslo have arrested a Norwegian citizen suspected of illegally handing information to a Russian intelligence officer.

The man, whom the PST security police did not name on Monday, was suspected of “harming vital national interests”, which could carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The arrest took place at a restaurant in the Norwegian capital on Saturday during a meeting of the two, PST spokesman Martin Bernsen told Reuters news agency. 

“He [the Norwegian man] was arrested in the presence of the intelligence officer,” said Bernsen.

Asked whether the intelligence officer was not arrested because the person was a diplomat, Bernsen declined to comment.

“We focus on the Norwegian man,” he said. 

The arrested man denies any wrongdoing, his lawyer, Marianne Darre-Naess, said following an arraignment hearing at Oslo district court.

The security police are asking the court that the man be detained for four weeks.

Last year, Frode Berg, a retired Norwegian border inspector, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in Moscow after a court found him guilty of spying on Russian nuclear submarines. 

NATO member Norway normally enjoys good relations with neighbouring Russia, with which it shares a short land border.

But relations have grown tense since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and a pro-Russia rebellion erupted in eastern Ukraine.

Source: News Agencies