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Norway accuses Iran of academic 'cheating'

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Norway accuses Iran of academic 'cheating'
The main building of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, in Trondheim. NTNU expelled an Iranian student last year on the advice of the intelligence services. Photo: Gorm Kallesta
13:50 CEST+02:00
Norway's intelligence services have accused Iran of coordinating academic cheating aimed at getting Iranian students into Norwegian institutions where they can steal technological secrets for weapons development back home.
Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) told Aftenposten that a suspiciously large number of Iranian students, all of whom appeared to have top marks, had targeted the same study area at the same Norwegian university. 
 
“We have seen a huge number of applicants from Iran for one special area of study at a Norwegian institution, to the extent that it looks like organized cheating,” PST section head Arne Christian Haugstøyl told the newspaper. “All of the students are apparently top students, so one may question the authenticity of the papers they come with." 
 
He said that Iran’s previous government had openly stated that it aimed to circumvent sanctions on technology by sending out students to Western institutions where they can study the necessary technologies. 
 
Shahin Akbarnejad, an Iranian materials scientist who was expelled from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology last year on the advice of PST, has sued the Norwegian immigration authorities to reverse the decision. 
 
“I simply cannot understand this,” he said. “I, my supervisors and NTNU have all delivered documentation showing that this research is completely open and that it has nothing to do with weapons development. I have never been even close to weapon developments...I have nothing to hide.” 
 
He has since continued his studies at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. 
 
Hamideh Kaffesh from the organization Stop Educational Discrimination against Iranians said that PST needed to provide more evidence to back up its sensational claims. 
 
“This is actually the first time we have heard such a justification from PST, and this paranoid example must naturally be supported by more evidence before we can comment on it,” he said.
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