Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen, best known for the feature film Izzat, about Norwegian Pakistani youth growing up in Oslo’s gang culture, had been shooting a film about the 18-year-old, who was arrested on Monday at Gothenburg airport as he prepared to depart for Syria to fight with the terror group Islamic State.
“We had filmed the youth. PST was partly looking for this material, which they took with them,” Rolfsen told Norway’s NTB newswire. “As a documentary maker, I have the right to protect my sources. I can not be ordered to give up the material. They have taken many hours of footage.”
According to Rolfsen, the Norwegian extremist Ubaydullah Hussain, and a film crew were at the airport when the young man was arrested.
Kjersti Løken Stavrum, the director of the Norwegian Press Association, demanded that PST immediately return the seized files to Rolfsen.
“These incidents are reminiscent of country we could not possibly want to compare ourselves with,” she told Dagbladet.
The prominent lawyer John Christian Elden, who is defending the 18-year-old, said that the PST should not use Rolfsen’s footage as evidence.
“If PST believes that a journalist’s unpublished raw material is important evidence in a Norwegian criminal case, they have a serious democratic problem. Even the worst dictatorship wouldn’t accept this,” he told Dagbladet in an SMS.
PST claims that it did not have time to wait for a court to provide a warrant as it feared Rolfsen would then destroy the evidence.
The footage has been sealed and sent to the court awaiting use in the trial.
They instead got the approval of the National Authority to rummage Rolfsen home.
“We will provide additional comments after the remand hearing of the 18-year-old on Wednesday,” Martin Bernsen from PST told NTB.
Rolfsen, who is half Pakistani and half Norwegian, has been working on the film since January last year.
He said he feared the raid would make it difficult to him to work as a documentary maker in the future.
“What worries me is that people in my profession do not get the opportunity to talk to people, unless they can be assured that it is confidential,” he said. “It is difficult to imagine that my interviewees will think that they can talk confidentially to me after this.”