Russian “TIT for TAT” in Norway

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) flanked by His Majesty King Harald V and Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway seen during a meeting in Oslo on Tuesday. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Vladimir Rodionov, Alexei Panov) Date taken: 12 November 2002

The man was detained at Oslo airport Friday evening by the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) on suspicion of illegal intelligence-gathering during a seminar at the Norwegian Parliament.

The seminar was arranged by the European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (ECPRD) and had 79 participants from 34 countries, the newspaper Dagbladet reports. The participants were administrative employees from different European Parliaments.

Norwegian Media Dagbladet has been in contact with several of the participants at the conference who thought the man’s behavior during the seminar was suspicious.

The man is detained for two weeks while further investigation is initiated.

Illegal intelligence-gathering activity targeting state secrets is according to Norway’s penal code, section 121, can give a penalty of three years in prison.

Neither the Norwegian Parliament, nor the Police Security Service will detail the man’s activities in the parliament prior to the arrest.

The newspaper VG has interviewed Russian man’s lawyer, Hege Kristine Aakre, who says electronic equipment is seized. She says the man doesn’t understand the reasons for being arrested.

The Russian Embassy in Norway has denounced the detention of a Russian national at an Oslo airport on suspicion of illegal intelligence activities.

“We believe the detention and subsequent arrest are far-fetched and done under an absurd pretext,” the Russian embassy wrote on Facebook.

The detained Russian national has taken part in several seminars across Europe in recent years, the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK reported.

The ECPRD is a European network for cooperation between parliamentarians on research, documentation and information. The Oslo event focused on digitalization.

A Norwegian man suspected by Russia of espionage has admitted to being a courier for Norway’s military intelligence, a retired former guard on the Norwegian-Russian border, has been detained since his arrest in Moscow last December, but had little knowledge of the operation he took part in.

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