Norway presents new intelligence chief

Norway presents new intelligence chief
Justice Minister Grete Faremo welcomes Marie Benedicte Bjørnland to her new post (Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix)
Marie Benedicte Bjørnland, 47, has been named the new head of Norway's domestic intelligence service, PST.

Justice Minister Grete Faremo heaped praise on Bjørnland at a Friday press conference for her work as head of the Vestfold police district.

“You have been the chief of one the best run police districts in the country, but now you will take on other important tasks. I am very confident that you are the right person for this job,” said the minister.

A popular police chief, Bjørnland was known during her time in Vestfold for her transparent policies and lively presence on social media site Twitter, an activity she may now have to reconsider.

“I haven’t yet evaluated if I’ll continue to have a Twitter account, we’ll have to discuss that,” she said.

Bjørnland's predecessor in the post, Janne Kristiansen, resigned in January over an alleged breach of confidentiality after she told parliament that Norway had agents operating in Pakistan.

But Bjørnland said she was undeterred by the fact that several of her predecessors had landed in hot water.

"I wouldn't have applied for this job if I'd feared it," she said.

Bjørnland was born in Kristiansand and grew up in Skien and Porsgrunn. After attaining a law degree from the University of Oslo, she went on to hold a number of senior police positions in Tønsberg and, later, Vestfold.

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