Ex-politician charged over sex with minor

The former head of the Progress Party’s youth wing, Trond Birkedal, has been indicted over allegations he secretly filmed naked boys and had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy.

Ex-politician charged over sex with minor
Photo: Geir Otto Johansen/Scanpix

Birkedal, 31, resigned from all posts in the right-wing populist party after his arrest in March for lewd behaviour.

The Stavanger politician, who was seeking to become the local party chair at the time of his arrest, has denied any wrongdoing.

“However, now that the charges are in place, he is pleased that this is now going to be tried in court,” said his lawyer, Arvid Sjødin.

“He has waited a long time for this case so that he can get it over with and move on.”

Birkedal is alleged to have had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old youth party member in Oslo in 2008. He is also suspected of sexually abusing several other boys, and filming boys in the shower at his home.

Hege Salomon, a lawyer representing the now 17-year-old boy at the centre of the case and a 19-year-old boy who claims he was secretly filmed by Birkedal, said the charges came as no surprise.

“I view it as positive that sexual abuse is included in the indictment, and I think it will benefit my client to get to explain himself in court and put this matter behind him,” Salomon told newspaper VG.

The case rocked the Progress Party when it emerged that top officials, including party leader Siv Jensen, had known since 2009 of suspicions that Birkedal was in a sexual relationship with an underage member of the party’s youth wing.

No date has yet been set for the trial, which is expected to take place in the first six months of next year.


Leader of Norwegian populist party to step down

Siv Jensen, the former finance minister and leader of the anti-immigration Progress Party, has announced she is to leave the role and quit parliament.

Leader of Norwegian populist party to step down
Siv Jensen. File photo: AFP

“I have today informed the nomination committee in the Oslo Progress Party that I do not wish to be re-elected to parliament,” she said at a press conference at the Storting parliament.

“As such, I have also notified the party’s election committee that this, naturally, means the party must select a new leader at its national conference in May,” she continued.

Norway is scheduled to hold general elections later this year.

“It has not been easy to take this choice. But I am completely convinced that it is the right choice for both the party and me,” she said.

Jensen has already given her blessing to Sylvi Listhaug, the hardline former immigration and integration, and later justice minister, as her successor. Listhaug is the current deputy leader of the right-wing party.

The outgoing leader also backed Ketil Solvik-Olsen, a former second deputy leader, as the next deputy leader.

“They are to outstanding politicians who dare to be innovative, clear, take on debates and challenge the existing truths,” Jensen said.

The former minister has been a member of parliament since 1997 and took over as Progress Party leader from Carl I. Hagen in 2006.

She was finance minister from 2013 until January 2020, when the Progress Party withdrew from the governing coalition.

Jensen said her party’s recent sluggish poll ratings were not rated to her decision to step back from politics.

“I have, in all my time as party leader, said that it is a job and lifestyle which demands 120 percent, 24 hours a day all year round,” she also said.