The postage stamps feature a picture of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the now deceased founder of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), against a backdrop of a flag bearing the group’s official emblem.
A small quantity of the stamps was ordered by a customer who commissioned the personalized prints on the postal service’s website.
The post office meanwhile was oblivious to the political preferences of the aspiring philatelist.
“This motif initially seems entirely innocent: it’s a picture of a person and what looks like a flower. But for people who are aware of the situation in Sri Lanka it can seem offensive,” post office spokesman Jørn Michalsen told newspaper VG.
In a statement published on the website of the Norwegian embassy in Colombo, the foreign ministry said the stamps “passed the postal service’s quality and assurance control and were printed without being stopped as they should have been.”
The customer who placed the order has been barred from designing further personalized stamps, the ministry said, adding:
“In a letter to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Oslo, The Norwegian Postal Service has offered their sincere apologies for this most unfortunate oversight. The Norwegian Embassy in Colombo shares this sentiment.”
The LTTE is considered a terrorist organization by a host of countries, including India, the United States and the European Union’s 27 member states.
The Norwegian postal service has not released any pictures of the offending stamps.